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Fertility Preservation: An Option for Women With Cancer?

Alana Shear
CJON 2010, 14(2), 240-242 DOI: 10.1188/10.CJON.240-242

Many women of childbearing age are diagnosed with cancer in the United States each year. Improved survival rates can give many time to still have their own families if they choose. Although cancer treatments can dramatically increase survivorship, they also can negatively affect future fertility. Women newly diagnosed with cancer may not be aware of the possible damage to their future fertility as their main concern is survival. Women who may have their fertility compromised by cytotoxic treatments should be counseled and referred to reproductive specialists to explore their options. Although receiving a diagnosis of cancer is overwhelming, fertility counseling should be initiated as early as possible so that sufficient time exists to preserve fertility before ovarian damage occurs. Many fertility preservation options, including egg, embryo, and ovarian tissue freezing, can be done in a short period of time so as not to delay the start of cancer treatment. To educate and support women with cancer of childbearing age, oncology nurses should be aware of fertility preservation options and work closely with infertility nurses.

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