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Cancer

Cancer, Fertility & Me

Cancer, Fertility & Me


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Contact details

Disclaimer

Every effort has been made to provide accurate and complete information in the Cancer, Fertility and Me resource at the time of publication (September, 2019). However, if you have any questions please contact Professor Georgina Jones.

Cancer, Fertility and Me
Yorkshire Cancer Research

About us

One of the consequences of cancer treatment can be a loss of fertility and it is difficult for women with cancer to make decisions on longer-term lifestyle planning around starting a family while simultaneously addressing the immediate concerns of cancer therapy.

The Cancer, Fertility and Me study was a four-year prospective, observational mixed-method study which developed a patient decision aid (PtDA) for teenage and adult women of child bearing age, diagnosed with any cancer, who need to consider fertility preservation choices before starting cancer treatment.

The study was funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research, and built on evidence which showed that cancer doctors need resources which enable them to support women’s fertility preservation decisions more effectively.

Women also report that they need more specialist information to help them make these decisions. Along with her team, Professor Georgina Jones, who led the study, developed a resource to be made available in oncology and haematology, so that it can be offered to women before they see a fertility expert.

Professor Jones said: “Our aim is for patients to feel better supported and more informed at the time of planning their cancer treatment and before referral to the fertility expert. It should enable women to make better informed decisions, have more focused consultations with the fertility experts, and have a better opportunity to ask the right questions at the right time during the fertility consultation".

The availability of this resource should also better support the cancer care teams and raise awareness amongst women of this possible late effect of cancer treatment, encouraging them to seek fertility care and advice at this crucial time.

The wider team involved in this study is multi-disciplinary and has extensive experience clinically and methodologically in the fields of adult and paediatric oncology, haematology, reproductive medicine, psychology and decision-making, and health services research. Breast Cancer Care, the North Trent Cancer Research Network Consumer Research Panel, Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity and the Independent Cancer Patients’ Voice charity also collaborated on this study.

Aims of research

The aim of this research was to develop a fertility preservation PtDA and enable cancer and fertility services to support effectively women’s fertility preservation decisions following a diagnosis of any cancer type.

Our objectives were to:

  • Develop a PtDA for use by oncology and haematology teams to support teenage and adult women (aged 16 years and older) making fertility preservation choices, whilst having a recent cancer diagnosis.
  • Gather feedback on the PtDA. During this stage, the decision aid was reviewed by a wide range of key stakeholders including adult and paediatric oncologists, haematologists, nurses, fertility experts, patients, user groups and charities.
  • Following this, the PtDA was then introduced to newly-diagnosed women with cancer across Yorkshire who were referred to hospitals in Leeds and Sheffield. All teenage and adult women aged 16 or over, facing cancer treatment that may potentially affect their fertility, were invited to receive the PtDA by a member of their cancer care team and to take part in the research. We evaluated the acceptability of the PtDA using both qualitative and quantitative methods to a) women making fertility preservation decisions whilst planning their cancer treatment and b) oncology, haematology and fertility health professionals supporting women’s cancer and fertility treatment choices.

The final version of the Cancer, Fertility and Me PtDA in booklet version was completed in September 2019 and is now available to all female cancer patients, free of charge through a wide range of academic, clinical and professional organisations and local and national charities. We also plan to obtain external accreditation from relevant professional bodies and the international criteria of PtDAs to be included in their A to Z Inventory.

What next

We have recently developed an online version of the booklet which can be accessed at the Cancer, Fertility and Me website. We are about to start the evaluation of this in Autumn 2019 and hope to have the results of this completed by May 2020.

We are also currently developing a version of the booklet for teenagers and young adults.

Resources list

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External partners

The Cancer, Fertility and Me team is grateful to their external partners for supporting  the development of this resource.

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