“Looking at future cancer survivors, give them a roadmap”: addressing fertility and family-building topics in post-treatment cancer survivorship care
Support Care Cancer
© 2020, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature. Purpose: Fertility is an important issue among adolescent and young adult female (AYA-F) cancer survivors. This study examined AYA-F survivors’ unmet needs and recommendations for care to address fertility/family-building in post-treatment survivorship. Methods: Semi-structured interviews (45–60 min) explored themes related to fertility and family-building after cancer. Coding categories were derived based on grounded theory methods. Themes were identified through an iterative process of coding and review. Results: Participants (N = 25) averaged 29 years old (SD = 6.2; range, 15–39) were primarily White and well educated, and averaged 5.81 years post-treatment (SD = 5.43); 32% had undergone fertility preservation (pre- or post-cancer). Six recommendations for improving care were identified: addressing patient-provider communication, need to provide informational, emotional, and peer support, financial information, and decision-making support. AYA-Fs believed the best way to learn about resources was through online platforms or doctor-initiated discussions. Telehealth options and digital resources were generally considered acceptable. Face-to-face interactions were preferred for in-depth information, when AYA-Fs anticipated having immediate questions or distressing emotions, and with concerns about Internet security. Thus, a combined approach was preferred such that information (via web-based communication) should be provided first, with follow-up in-person visits and referrals when needed. Conclusion: Informational and support services are needed to better educate patients about gonadotoxic effects and options to have children after cancer treatment is completed. Future work should evaluate how to best support oncology providers in meeting the needs of survivors concerned about fertility and family-building including referral to clinical specialties and supportive resources.
School of Medicine
General Internal Medicine