The study involved 459 adolescents and young adults who were diagnosed with cancer in 2007 or 2008. Most participants were white, male and had private health insurance. Most of them also were at least 21 when they were diagnosed with cancer and were not raising children of their own.
The researchers had the study participants answer a questionnaire to determine how well they understood their fertility options.
The study found that 70% of participants said physicians had discussed infertility risk with them. However, the researchers found that less than 33% of men and less than 10% of women had arranged for fertility preservation.
More specifically, the researchers found that, among female study participants, 74% of women said they were told that cancer therapy could affect their fertility, 34% had discussed fertility preservation options and 6.8% had arranged for fertility preservation. Many of the women who did not arrange for fertility preservation said they did not know about or could not access affordable options, while 38% said they were concerned that fertility preservation could delay treatment.
Meanwhile, among the men surveyed, 80% were told they might become infertile, 71% had discussed infertility treatment options and 31% had arranged for fertility preservation.
Researchers also found that participants who already had children were less likely to consider fertility preservation than those who did not have children. Similarly, non-white men and participants without health insurance were less likely to discuss their options for fertility preservation, according to the study (Rapaport, Reuters, 7/27).