There is no question that cancer treatments may affect a woman’s ability to procreate. In spite of many ground breaking advancements in medical and radiation therapy, most treatments still cannot discriminate between cancerous and healthy cells which can cause the ovaries to temporarily stop working. In some cases, cancer treatment may even bring on menopause prematurely.
Yet, despite these alarming facts, most young women diagnosed breast cancer aren’t getting the information they need about guarding their fertility during treatment.
UK-based charity Breast Cancer Care asked 170 survivors under the age of 45 if fertility risks and options were discussed by their physicians. Among them, only 12% of the women were given a referral to a fertility clinic. In fact, most of the women say that they did not even know that infertility is a risk that came with chemotherapy.
Breast Cancer Care chief executive Samia al Qadhi said that breast cancer can rob a woman of her chances to have a family. They believe that along with discussing the course of the disease and treatment options, survivors should also be educated about the choices they need to make about their fertility. For example. a survivor may not be aware that she has the option to freeze some of her eggs to protect them from the harsh effects of cancer therapy and use them in case she wants to have children in the future.
We join the BCC in encouraging health care providers to include fertility options in their education sessions. Breast cancer should not deny a woman of her choice to have children of her own.