The Fertility-Related Concerns, Needs and Preferences of Younger Women With Breast Cancer: A Systematic Review

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2009 Jul;116(2):215-23. doi: 10.1007/s10549-009-0401-6. Epub 2009 Apr 24.


Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer in reproductive aged women. Adjuvant systemic therapy is recommended in most women and has been demonstrated to reduce the risk of recurrence and increase survival. However, there may be a negative impact of adjuvant systemic therapy on fertility as well as on subsequent quality of life. There are a number of fertility preservation options currently available and relevant information regarding these options should be provided prior to commencing adjuvant treatment. The aim of the review is to identify the fertility-related needs, concerns and preferences of young women with early breast cancer. The databases MEDLINE and EMBASE were searched from 1988 onwards using keywords, and examining reference lists. Of the 499 articles identified, 20 met eligibility criteria and were reviewed. Multiple fertility-related information needs specific to this group regarding menstrual changes and potential infertility attitudes to, and actual decisions made regarding, pregnancy breastfeeding and contraception emerged. Information on fertility-related decisions was rated as important, and the preferred methods for obtaining this information was consultation with a specialist or a decision aid early in the treatment plan. There is limited research about fertility-related needs, and even less on contraceptive preferences and the attitudes of health care providers towards fertility-related issues. No studies describing the development of tools to assist with decisions about fertility-related choices were identified. Young women with early breast cancer have specific fertility- and menopause-related needs and concerns, which are commonly not adequately addressed or discussed prior to commencing adjuvant therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Fertility* / drug effects
  • Fertility* / radiation effects
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pregnancy
  • Psychology
  • Quality of Life
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant / adverse effects
  • Young Adult