As previous studies have shown, women diagnosed with cancer during their reproductive years often do not receive adequate consultation, and sometimes none at all, regarding the fertility risks of cancer or its treatment. Fertility is a unique survivorship issue that young cancer patients face, which can impact their quality-of-life after cancer treatment. In the African American (AA) community, although more AA women are diagnosed with early-onset breast cancer than Caucasian women, little is known about patient awareness related to fertility or the rate at which providers are communicating potential fertility issues.
A new article in Supportive Care in Cancer by Oncofertility researchers, Susan T. Vadaparampil, Juliette Christie, Gwendolyn P. Quinn, Patrice Fleming, Caitlin Stowe, Bethanne Bower and Tuya Pal, entitled, ”A pilot study to examine patient awareness and provider discussion of the impact of cancer treatment on fertility in a registry-based sample of African American women with breast cancer,” examines patient/provider communication in the African American breast cancer population. The authors studied AA women under the age of 50, diagnosed with invasive breast cancer between 2005 and 2006 in an effort to better understand the fertility communication and awareness barriers that may be in place for AA women being treated for breast cancer.
Similar to other studies, the authors found that a substantial proportion of young AA breast cancer patients were unaware of the impact breast cancer treatment would have on their fertility. One half of young AA women diagnosed with breast cancer reported no discussion with their providers of fertility risks associated with their treatment. The exception -women who were younger, had no children or few children, and had not undergone tubal ligation were more often aware of the fertility risks posed by their treatment.
The results of this study suggest that better communication and awareness about fertility is critical in order for AA patients to make informed decisions about their treatment. In line with prior research, definite plans for childbearing, relationship status or sexual orientation should not play a role in whether or not someone is informed about their fertility risks. To learn more about this study or to read, “A pilot study to examine patient awareness and provider discussion of the impact of cancer treatment on fertility in a registry-based sample of African American women with breast cancer,” please click here.