Men were actively encouraged to consider storage of sperm, even if they had children already. Nearly all had a discussion with staff about sperm banking and a local protocol was in place for immediate referral.
However, in contrast, few women interviewed could remember fertility preservation being discussed and there was no protocol in place.
From the staff interviews, the main reason why staff did not discuss fertility preservation with the majority of women was their belief that treatment was perceived to be more urgent. The study also found that health professionals did not discuss future fertility in detail because they felt patients were given a wealth of information during their first visit and that fertility would not be affected if treatment using first line drugs was successful.
Valerie Peddie, Fertility Nurse Specialist/Research Midwife, School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Aberdeen, and co-author of the paper said:
"It has been widely argued that at the time of diagnosis, patients should be provided with accurate information about the potential risk of impaired fertility after treatment for cancer irrespective of whether local facilities for gamete cryopreservation exist.
"However in reality, the immediate emphasis is often on treatment, with little time available to discuss future fertility or options for fertility preservation.
"Our study has demonstrated significant gaps in the information provided to young women diagnosed with cancer and suggests the need for an early appointment with a fertility expert."
BJOG Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Pierre Martin-Hirsch, added:
"This is a unique study as it looks specifically at younger men and women's experiences however it is a small scale study and more research needs to be conducted in a larger population. Following that care pathways should be developed looking at fertility
|Contact: Naomi Weston|