Journal of Cancer Survivorship

, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 146–155 | Cite as

Discussion of fertility preservation with newly diagnosed patients: oncologists’ views

  • Gwendolyn P. QuinnEmail author
  • Susan T. Vadaparampil
  • Clement K. Gwede
  • Cheryl Miree
  • Lindsey M. King
  • Heather B. Clayton
  • Crystal Wilson
  • Pamela Munster



Although physician discussion with patients regarding fertility preservation (FP) options prior to cancer treatment can provide important information for survivors concerning their future fertility, little is known about the extent to which physicians discuss FP with patients. This qualitative study sought to identify current physician FP communication practices and determine factors that may impact communication efforts regarding FP.

Materials and methods

Qualitative data were collected using semi structured interviews with 16 physicians practicing at a major cancer center in the South.


All providers were board certified in medical oncology, radiation oncology or surgical oncology. The main factors that emerged from qualitative analysis included distinct variations in quality of discussion about FP, knowledge of FP resources, attitudes, practice behaviors and perceptions of patient characteristics.


While most physicians discussed potential fertility loss as a side effect of cancer treatment, few provided information to patients about preserving fertility. Patient characteristics such as gender and cancer site may impact the discussion, as well as system factors such as costs of procedures and access to FP resources. Education and training for physicians about FP options for cancer patients, particularly females, may promote discussion of FP. In addition, system barriers related to availability and affordability of FP resources must also be addressed.

Implications for cancer survivors

Physicians should consider providing patients with timely, understandable information related to their FP options, prior to the administration of treatment. Such discussions may lead to improved quality of life for individuals as they transition from patients to survivors.


Fertility preservation Survivorship Patient–physician communication Qualitative research 



This work is supported in part by the American Cancer Society Institutional Research Grant # 93-032-10.

The authors wish to thank Thomas Sellers, Ph.D., MPH and Michael Feuerstein, Ph.D., MPH, ABPP for editing early drafts of the manuscript.

The work contained within this publication was supported in part by the Survey Methods Core Facility at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute.


  1. 1.
    Amory, J. K. (2004). Case 15-2004: Cancer therapy and sperm banking. New England Journal of Medicine, 351, 510 (Author Reply 510).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bahadur, G. (2000). Fertility issues for cancer patients. Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology, 169, 117–122.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Burnett, A. F. (2006). Radical trachelectomy with laparoscopic lymphadenectomy: Review of oncologic and obstetrical outcomes. Current Opinion in Obstetrics & Gynecology, 18, 8–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Cabana, M. D., Rand, C. S., Powe, N. R., Wu, A. W., Wilson, M. H., Abboud, P. A., et al. (1999). Why don’t physicians follow clinical practice guidelines? A framework for improvement. JAMA, 282(15), 1458–1465.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Goodwin, T., Oosterhuis, E. B., Kiernan, M., Hudson, M. M., & Dahl, G. V. (2006). Attitudes and practices of pediatric oncology providers regarding fertility issues. Pediatric Blood and Cancer, 48, 80–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Hartmann, J. T., Albrecht, C., Schmoll, H. J., Kuczyk, M. A., Kollmannsberger, C., & Bokemeyer, C. (1999). Long-term effects on sexual function and fertility after treatment of testicular cancer. British Journal of Cancer, 80, 801–807.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Hovatta, O. (2001). Cryopreservation of testicular tissue in young cancer patients. Human Reproduction Update, 7, 378–383.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Kim, S. S., Radford, J., Harris, M., Varley, J., Rutherford, A. J., Lieberman, B., et al. (2001). Ovarian tissue harvested from lymphoma patients to preserve fertility may be safe for autotransplatation. Human Reproduction, 16, 2056–2060.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Lee, S. J., Schover, L. R., Partridge, A. H., Patrizio, P., Wallice, W. H., Hagerty, K., et al. (2006). American Society of Clinical Oncology recommendations on fertility preservation in cancer patients. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 24, 2917–2931.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Newton, H. (1998). The cryopreservation of ovarian tissue as a strategy for preserving the fertility of cancer patients. Human Reproduction Update, 4, 237–247.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Partridge, A. H., Gelber, S., Peppercorn, J., Sampson, E., Knudsen, K., Laufer, M., et al. (2004). Web-based survey of fertility issues in young women with breast cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 22, 4174–4183.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative research and evaluation methods. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Pfeifer, S. M., & Coutifaris, C. (1999). Reproductive technologies 1998: Options available for the cancer patient. Medical and Pediatric Oncology, 33, 34–40.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Punch, K. (2005). Introduction to social research: Quantitative and qualitative approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Reebals, J. F., Brown, R., & Buckner, E. B. (2006). Nurse practice issues regarding sperm banking in adolescent male cancer patients. Journal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing, 23, 182–188.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Rieker, P. P., Fitzgerald, E. M., & Kalish, L. A. (1990). Adaptive behavioral responses to potential infertility among survivors of testis cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 8, 347–355.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Schover, L. R. (1999). Psychosocial aspects of infertility and decisions about reproduction in young cancer survivors: A review. Medical and Pediatric Oncology, 33, 53–59.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Schover, L. R., Brey, K., Lichtin, A., Lipshultz, L. I., & Jeha, S. (2002). Knowledge and experience regarding cancer, infertility, and sperm banking in younger male survivors. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 20, 1880–1889.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Schover, L. R., Brey, K., Lichtin, A., Lipshultz, L. I., & Jeha, S. (2002). Oncologists’ attitudes and practices regarding banking sperm before cancer treatment. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 20, 1890–1897.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Schover, L. R., Rybicki, L. A., Martin, B. A., & Bringelsen, K. A. (1999). Having children after cancer. A pilot survey of survivors’ attitudes and experiences. Cancer, 86, 697–709.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Sonmezer, M., & Oktay, K. (2004). Fertility preservation in female patients. Human Reproduction Update, 10, 251–266.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Wallace, W. H., Anderson, R. A., & Irvine, D. S. (2005). Fertility preservation for young patients with cancer: Who is at risk and what can be offered? Lancet Oncology, 6, 209–218.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gwendolyn P. Quinn
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Susan T. Vadaparampil
    • 1
    • 2
  • Clement K. Gwede
    • 1
    • 2
  • Cheryl Miree
    • 2
  • Lindsey M. King
    • 2
    • 3
  • Heather B. Clayton
    • 2
    • 3
  • Crystal Wilson
    • 2
  • Pamela Munster
    • 1
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Interdisciplinary Oncology, College of MedicineUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Cancer Prevention and Control, Health Outcomes and BehaviorH. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research InstituteTampaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Community and Family Health, College of Public HealthUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA
  4. 4.Comprehensive Breast ProgramH. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research InstituteTampaUSA
  5. 5.Experimental Therapeutics, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research InstituteTampaUSA

Personalised recommendations