February 27, 2009

Tool to save cancer patients’ fertility

Oncofertility seeks to preserve the reproductive health of people diagnosed with cancer, but patients may not get treatment, U.S. researchers said.

A leading oncofertility researcher and a breast surgical oncologist from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine have written a guide to help doctors navigate their patients through new technologies to preserve patients' fertility and understand the fertility threats posed by cancer treatments. The guide offers strategies based on each kind of cancer, as well as the age and gender of the patient.

We hope that physicians who are not used to dealing with fertility threats associated with treatment can now talk confidently with their patients about their options, co-author Teresa Woodruff, chief of fertility preservation and the Thomas J. Watkins Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Feinberg School, said in a statement. This is a new tool for them.

Woodruff and Northwestern colleagues began www.myoncofertility.org, an interactive Web site designed to educate patients about the potential effect of cancer and treatments on their fertility and options for preservation.

Doctors are focused on saving a patient's life and are not used to thinking about preserving a patient's fertility and incorporating fertility preservation into her or his care, lead author Dr. Jacqueline Jeruss said.

The findings are published in the New England Journal of Medicine.