Journal scan

Advice on risk of infertility given to only a third of cancer survivors

Journal Scan looks at the latest research from the nursing and medical journals

The majority of children diagnosed with cancer will be treated successfully and survive the disease, but late and long-term sequelae are numerous and pose a significant burden on overall quality of life and well-being.

Infertility is constantly reported to be an important concern of people living with and beyond cancer.

This American study reports findings from a postal survey of 61 survivors of cancer, examining their experience of education about their risk of infertility during the various parts of their cancer trajectory, such as at diagnosis, during treatment or post-treatment follow-up, regardless of whether they had received this intervention.

It also explores which healthcare professional provides the information/education, where relevant. All participants were also asked to indicate from whom they would have liked to receive such information and in which format, such as

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The majority of children diagnosed with cancer will be treated successfully and survive the disease, but late and long-term sequelae are numerous and pose a significant burden on overall quality of life and well-being.


Infertility is a major concern for childhood cancer survivors. Picture: iStock

Infertility is constantly reported to be an important concern of people living with and beyond cancer.

This American study reports findings from a postal survey of 61 survivors of cancer, examining their experience of education about their risk of infertility during the various parts of their cancer trajectory, such as at diagnosis, during treatment or post-treatment follow-up, regardless of whether they had received this intervention.

It also explores which healthcare professional provides the information/education, where relevant. All participants were also asked to indicate from whom they would have liked to receive such information and in which format, such as web-based materials or leaflets.

While the majority of the participants received treatment that rendered a risk of infertility, just over one third reported receiving such information at diagnosis. More males than females reported they had received such information.

The medical oncologist was the primary source of information at diagnosis; the nurse reinforcing this information in just under a third of cases. By the completion of treatment, 39% reported they had been given information about infertility; the majority still provided by the clinician, with 14% receiving it from the endocrinologist, whose role and involvement increased at the follow-up interview stages.

Cherven BO et al (2016) Infertility education: experiences and preferences of childhood cancer survivors. Journal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing 33, 4, 257-264.

Journal Scan is compiled by Dion Smyth, lecturer-practitioner in cancer and palliative care, Birmingham City University

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