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Cancer J. 2009 Jan-Feb;15(1):27-33. doi: 10.1097/PPO.0b013e3181976602.

Medical and psychosocial aspects of fertility after cancer.

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Division of General Internal Medicine, Rhode Island Hospital, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.


Survival for cancer has improved significantly in the last 25 years with excellent overall 5- and 10-year survival rates. Hence, the majority of young women diagnosed with cancer can expect to live for decades, making quality of life issues such as fertility increasingly important. Risks of infertility vary based on the chemotherapy and treatments employed, as well as a woman's age. In general, younger women are less likely to experience permanent amenorrhea than older women, but even women who continue to menstruate have a greatly increased risk of premature menopause. Options for patients with cancer entering chemotherapy treatment, who wish to preserve fertility range from clinically well-established techniques such as embryo cryopreservation to more experimental techniques such as ovarian tissue cryopreservation. Pregnancy does not appear to increase the risk of cancer recurrence. Discussions of fertility issues in premenopausal women diagnosed with cancer present important challenges to the provider and to the patient. However, failure to discuss these options adequately can have lasting negative consequences on a woman's quality of life. Physician education interventions should seek to improve the knowledge of fertility preservations options, and of locally and nationally available resources.

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