Journal of Cancer Education

, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 362–368 | Cite as

Fertility Preservation Practices Among Ontario Oncologists

  • Samantha Yee
  • Esme Fuller-Thomson
  • Angela Lau
  • Ellen M. Greenblatt


This study explores the attitudes, knowledge, and referring behaviors in fertility preservation among Ontario physicians providing adult cancer care. Ontario physicians with specialties in medical oncology, radiation oncology, gynaecologic oncology, and urology were invited to complete a 48-item questionnaire. A total of 152 questionnaires were available for analysis with a response rate of 23.7%. Seventy-four percent of the physicians indicated that they rarely or never modified cancer treatment due to concern about future fertility. Differences were found in fertility preservation knowledge among respondents in different medical specialties (p < 0.01) and clinical settings (p < 0.05). The frequency of initiating a referral was strongly associated with knowing where to refer patients (p < 0.001). The odds of knowing where to refer cancer patients was higher for physicians who work in a teaching hospital (p < 0.01) and a cancer centre (p < 0.01) compared with those who primarily work in a community setting. About 45% did not know where to refer female patients, and 69.7% rarely ever made a fertility preservation consultation referral for their female patients. The majority of respondents had positive attitudes despite their lack of current knowledge in cryopreservation services and fertility preservation options through assisted reproductive technologies. Our findings provide further insights of the relevance of considering physicians’ medical backgrounds and practice settings when designing training modules to raise their awareness in fertility preservation issues.


Oncology Fertility preservation Oncologists Cancer patients Assisted reproductive technology 



The co-authors would like to express appreciation to Abha Gupta MD, David Hodgson MD, Keith Jarvi MD, Kirk Lo MD, Orla McArdle MD, Joan Murphy MD, and Barry Rosen MD for providing feedback on the questionnaire for validity purpose.

Funding Support

Mount Sinai Hospital Rose Torno Bursary 2009 awarded to the first author.


The findings were presented at the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society’s 56th Annual Meeting in Vancouver (29 Sept–2 Oct 2010), and the presentation received the Best Psychosocial Paper award.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samantha Yee
    • 1
    • 2
  • Esme Fuller-Thomson
    • 2
  • Angela Lau
    • 4
  • Ellen M. Greenblatt
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Center for Fertility and Reproductive HealthMount Sinai HospitalTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social WorkUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Department of Obstetrics and GynaecologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Department of Physiology, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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