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Women with cancer don’t get enough information about fertility risks—or fertility preservation options

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Women with cancer don’t get enough information about fertility risks—or fertility preservation options

October 28, 2016   |   Studies Say, The Real Deal

As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’ll be exploring the intersections of cancer, fertility, and women’s health throughout October. See more.

Cancer treatments save lives—there’s no question about it. But that’s not to say that life after cancer survival will always go exactly according to plan.

As we’ve discussed, cancer treatments like surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation can pose a serious risk to women’s fertility. And a new survey shows that women diagnosed with cancer aren’t getting all the information they deserve about this risk. In a population of 346 young female cancer survivors with an average age of 30, who had been treated for cancer an average of 5 years earlier, 179—or over 50%—of the women “definitely” or “maybe” wanted children, but were unaware of their fertility status post-cancer and hadn’t taken any steps to preserve their fertility before their treatment. Two thirds of those women were concerned that they would not be able to get pregnant in the future.

Even more women aren’t informed about the options they have to preserve their fertility, like freezing eggs or embryos. Only 13% had spoken with their oncologist or another specialist about options for fertility preservation.

(Read more from this study at Reuters.)

Honestly, these numbers aren’t surprising, especially considering that 85% of women in another surveyed correctly rated themselves as having little to no knowledge about egg freezing (and OB/GYNs don’t often have the fertility chat with their patients). But since women who undergo some cancer treatments are at a much higher chance of infertility or early menopause, it’s especially important that they fully understand their options.

We commend people like Alice Crisci, founder of Fertile Action and breast cancer survivor herself (not to mention the mom of a son born from a frozen egg!), who push for better information about—and coverage for—egg freezing for women with cancer.

And we’re trying to do our part by partnering with LIVESTRONG Fertility to increase access to fertility treatment and medication for women with cancer. Have questions about egg freezing before cancer treatment? Reach out to us today.


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