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Fertility Issues Take Back Seat to Breast Cancer

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« A majority of young breast cancer patients expressed concern about the effects of treatment on fertility, but few altered treatment or took advantage of fertility preservation options, investigators reported.

Overall, 51% of 620 patients said they were concerned about infertility after treatment, but fewer than one in five changed their treatment because of fertility concerns. Though most of the women had discussed fertility issues with their physicians, only 10% opted to avail themselves of fertility preservation techniques, according to Kathryn J. Ruddy, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and co-authors.

The results pointed to shortcomings related to physician-patient communication and understanding about factors that influence cancer patients’ decision-making about fertility preservation, they reported online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

« Nearly one third of the patients in our study did not recall discussing the impact of oncologic therapies on fertility before initiating treatment, suggesting that it is crucial that we continue to improve communication about fertility risks and options for fertility preservation, as well as to provide emotional support as young women come to terms with the impact of cancer on their hopes for a normal future, » the authors concluded. »

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