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Cancer, Fertility & Me

Cancer, Fertility & Me

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 is a three year prospective, observational mixed-method study which will develop 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 project, funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research, will build on evidence which shows 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 is leading the study, will develop 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 research 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 are also collaborating on this study.

Aims of research

The aim of this research is 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 are to:

  • Develop a ptDA for use by oncology and haematology teams to support teenage and adult women making fertility preservation choices, whilst having a recent cancer diagnosis.
  • Gather feedback on the ptDA. During this stage, the decision aid will be 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 will then be introduced to newly-diagnosed women with cancer across Yorkshire who are 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, will be invited to receive the ptDA by a member of their cancer care team and to take part in the research. We will evaluate 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 will be made 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.

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