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J Adolesc Young Adult Oncol. 2019 Apr;8(2):197-204. doi: 10.1089/jayao.2018.0102. Epub 2019 Jan 24.

Patterns of Referral for Fertility Preservation Among Female Adolescents and Young Adults with Breast Cancer: A Population-Based Study.

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1 Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Queen's University, Kingston, Canada.
2 Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
3 Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, Queen's University, Kingston, Canada.
4 Department of Family Medicine, Centre for Health Services and Policy Research, Queen's University, Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, Kingston, Canada.
5 Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland.



To assess the fertility preservation (FP) referral rates and patterns of newly diagnosed breast cancer in female adolescent and young adult (AYA) patients.


Women aged 15-39 years with newly diagnosed breast cancer in Ontario from 2000 to 2017 were identified using the Ontario Cancer Registry. Exclusion criteria included prior sterilizing procedure, health insurance ineligibility, and prior infertility or cancer diagnosis. Women with a gynecology consult between cancer diagnosis and chemotherapy commencement with the billed infertility diagnostic code (ICD-9 628) were used as a surrogate for FP referral. The effect of age, parity, year of cancer diagnosis, staging, income, region, neighborhood marginalization, and rurality on referral status was investigated.


A total of 4452 patients aged 15-39 with newly diagnosed breast cancer met the inclusion criteria. Of these women, 178 (4.0%) were referred to a gynecologist with a billing code of infertility between cancer diagnosis and initiation of chemotherapy. Older patients, prior parity, and advanced disease were inversely correlated with referrals. Referral rates also varied regionally: patients treated in the south-east and south-west Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) had the highest probability of referral, and patients covered by north LHINs had the lowest (central LHIN as reference). General surgeons accounted for 36.5% of all referrals, the highest percentage of all specialists. Referral rates significantly increased over time from 0.4% in 2000 to 10.7% in 2016.


FP referral rates remain low and continue to be influenced by patient demographics and prognosis. These findings highlight the need for further interdisciplinary coordination in addressing the fertility concerns of AYA with newly diagnosed breast cancers.


breast cancer; fertility preservation; oncofertility; premature ovarian insufficiency

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