Fertility and cancer - a qualitative study of Australian cancer survivors

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    Abstract

    Purpose: This study aims to assess the fertility concerns among cancer survivors aged 50 and under as part of a larger study investigating the survivors' concerns regarding fertility, sexuality and parenting. Methods: Cancer survivors who were at least 1 month posttreatment were invited to a recorded interview. The patients were identified from an oncology database and invited to participate via letter or during clinic consultation. The participants were recruited until saturation of themes was achieved. Transcripts were coded thematically, with greater emphasis given to frequently raised themes. Results: Twenty-five survivors (19 women) were interviewed. The median age was 37 (range 24-50). Median time since completion of treatment was 7 months. Twenty were married or in a relationship; 18 had children at the time of diagnosis. Two became pregnant after treatment. Four themes were identified: (1) Fertility represents more than child-bearing capacity: potential fertility loss was a concern for participants, irrespective of their desire for future children; (2) Assumed infertility: There was a tendency for participants to assume that they were infertile; (3) Lack of information regarding decision-making and fertility: The respondents reported a perceived lack of consideration of fertility at diagnosis by medical professionals, and this impacted upon the decision-making process; and (4) Participant recommendations: The respondents wanted more information and for support services to be offered. Conclusions: Fertility is an important concern for young cancer survivors. There is a need for strategies regarding information provision and support for cancer patients with regard to these concerns.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1259-1265
    Number of pages7
    JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
    Volume20
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

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