Fertility issues for young adult survivors of childhood cancer

Psychooncology. 2004 Oct;13(10):689-99. doi: 10.1002/pon.784.


Background: The effects of cancer and its treatment on reproduction and fertility are well-documented, yet knowledge of the psychosocial and behavioral ramifications of these outcomes for young adult survivors of childhood cancer is limited. As a qualitative exploratory study, this work identifies concerns, attitudes, and behaviors that may be associated with childhood cancer survivors' reproductive capacity.

Procedure: As part of a semi-structured interview assessing the impact of cancer on long-term survivors' quality of life, a convenience sample of 32 childhood cancer survivors between the ages of 19-37 and at least five years beyond diagnosis were asked if they had physical limitations as a result of their cancer or treatment, and if having cancer has affected their ability to have children.

Results: These data are organized around two major themes: (1) survivors' reproductive capacity and (2) their attitudes, experiences and concerns about children and parenting. Fifty-nine percent of survivors reported that they are uncertain about their fertility status, and half recall a parent or health care provider ever mentioning potential reproductive problems associated with their past cancer treatment.

Conclusions: While some survivors profess to know nothing about their risks for infertility, others possess and recall information that influences their personal relationships, their beliefs about having children, and possibly subsequent decisions and behaviors with regard to having children.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infertility / etiology*
  • Infertility / psychology*
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / complications*
  • Survivors / psychology*