A new study is raising awareness about young people who are undergoing cancer treatment and the fertility challenges that lie ahead. The study shows the effects can be devastating for a survivor who wants to start a family and can’t.
FERTILITY CHALLENGES YOUNG CANCER PATIENTS FACE
First and foremost, it’s important that young cancer patients have the opportunity to get information from the primary healthcare provider of what the risks of the proposed cancer treatment are.
In the past, there have been preconceived notions that have kept doctors from talking about this issue with patients. Is the patient too sick to start having children? Is the patient’s prognosis so poor that it isn’t worth mentioning? Does the patient already have kids?
Whatever the circumstance, it’s not the doctor’s place to make that judgment call. Every patient deserves to know the information available to him or her.
With that information, doctors also need to discuss options and talk to fertility experts with their patient. The patient needs to know what having their eggs/sperm harvested looks like, and the cost involved. While some patient’s can’t deal with those decisions, costs, or procedures at the moment, it’s still their right to know about them.
HOW TO INCREASE CHANCES OF HAVING KIDS WHEN OLDER
If the patient had the opportunity to preserve eggs and sperm, that’s great. If not, they should have their fertility tested again. It’s also important that the patient knows about surrogacy and adoption options.
For more information, watch the video clip above for a conversation with Mark Stewart, a cancer survivor, and Dr. Abha Gupta, medical director of the Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Program at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.