Correlates of fertility issues in an internet survey of cancer survivors

J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2010 Sep;31(3):150-7. doi: 10.3109/0167482X.2010.503910.


Purpose: The objectives of this study were (1) to determine what young cancer survivors know about the effect of their cancer on fertility, how fertility difficulties affected their lives and whether they would opt for fertility preservation (FP) and (2) to assess the sources of information and the helpfulness of them.

Methods: Women of at least 18 years with cancer affecting reproductive function were recruited from eight cancer websites for this online survey. The Cancer and Fertility Survey (CFS) contained items from validated inventories and items to assess fertility issues in cancer patients. Quantitative analyses (t-tests, chi(2), analysis of variance) and thematic analysis of free text data were performed.

Results: Of the 80 participating women, 68.1% rated the risk of infertility as high. The mean number of professionals consulted was 3.56 (SD = 2.7), but 20% of women had not discussed fertility with any professional. The weighted mean helpfulness index was the highest for spouses and oncologists. Strength of positive attitudes towards FP was significantly greater than that of negative attitudes.

Conclusion: The need to discuss fertility is high among women searching for information on cancer websites. Options to preserve fertility were positively viewed but the actual use may be limited by concerns about safety.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Female
  • Fertility*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female*
  • Internet
  • Neoplasms*
  • Survivors*