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Fertility concerns of cancer survivors inadequately addressed, study finds
Date:10/12/2010

Many cancer survivors experience changes in sexual function that leave them feeling guilty and a longing for intimacy, Australian researchers told at the 35th Congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) in Milan, Italy. The researchers say that these sexuality and fertility concerns are often not adequately addressed by doctors.

Professor Bogda Koczwara from Flinders Medical Centre in Adelaide said that fertility concerns among cancer survivors was a growing problem, due to a combination of improved cancer treatment outcomes in young cancer survivors and the trend for people to delay having children.

Millions of people worldwide are living after treatment for cancer, many of them still of reproductive age, Prof Koczwara said. To evaluate the range of fertility and sexuality concerns among these patients, she and her colleagues interviewed 25 cancer survivors --19 women and 6 men.

"Respondents perceived fertility as an important concern that was often inadequately addressed by healthcare providers," Prof Koczwara said.

"The most intriguing finding was that fertility concerns were also identified by women who have already completed their family, and fertility was an important issue even for those women who had no plans for further children."

The researchers found that fertility was important for these patients' sense of identity and body image. "That is important, as doctors may not raise these issues with patients who claim not to have plans for further children. As our study points out, maybe we should."

Sexuality and fertility can be affected by cancer and its treatment in a variety of ways. For some cancers, treatment may involve removal of reproductive organs. For others, the chemotherapy or radiotherapy may affect reproductive organs function either temporarily or permanently. For most patients, cancer treatment, delays reproduction and by making the patient unwell may impact on sexu
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Contact: Vanessa Pavinato
media@esmo.org
European Society for Medical Oncology
Source:Eurekalert

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