Few Young Women With Cancer Take Steps to Preserve
MONDAY, March 26 (HealthDay News) -- Very few young women with
cancer take measures to preserve their fertility while undergoing
cancer treatment, a new study says.
The findings suggest that reproductive-age women with cancer
need more information about fertility preservation methods such as
egg or embryo freezing, said Dr. Mitchell Rosen, of the University
of California, San Francisco, and colleagues.
The researchers surveyed 1,041 women aged 18 to 40 who were
diagnosed with cancer between 1993 and 2007. Of those women, 918
received cancer therapies (chemotherapy, pelvic radiation, pelvic
surgery, or bone marrow transplant) that could harm their
Sixty-one percent of the women received counseling from their
doctors or other health care providers on the risks that cancer
treatment posed to their fertility, but only 4 percent of the women
actually took steps to preserve their fertility.
The proportion of patients who took measures to preserve their
fertility, however, increased from 1 percent in 1993 to between 6
percent and 10 percent in 2005 to 2007, according to the study,
which was published online March 26 in the journal
The researchers also found that women who were childless,
younger, white, heterosexual and college graduates were more likely
than women of other backgrounds both to be counseled about the
fertility-related risks of cancer treatment and to preserve their
fertility before undergoing cancer treatment.
"Although more women are getting counseled regarding reproductive health risks, many women are still not receiving adequate information about their options at the time of cancer diagnosis," Rosen said in a journal news release. "Routine counseling regarding reproductive health risk and options for preserving reproductive potential will improve the quality of life among survivors, and the overall quality of care."
In the United States, more than 120,000 women under age 50 are
diagnosed with cancer each year.
According to the American Cancer Society, steps to preserve
fertility usually have to be taken before or during cancer
treatment, meaning young women with cancer need to make decisions
Freezing embryos is the most common, well-established option for
women. But there are other methods, including freezing eggs or
portions of ovarian tissue and choosing specific strategies for
combating the cancer that spare the ovaries.
The American Cancer Society has more about
fertility and cancer.
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