A pilot study to examine patient awareness and provider discussion of the impact of cancer treatment on fertility in a registry-based sample of African American women with breast cancer

Support Care Cancer. 2012 Oct;20(10):2559-64. doi: 10.1007/s00520-012-1380-4. Epub 2012 Jan 24.


Purpose: Fertility is a concern for many cancer patients diagnosed during their reproductive years. Although African American women are more likely to be diagnosed with early breast cancer (i.e., ≤age 40), little is known about patient awareness of or provider discussion related to fertility in this group. We examined African American women's awareness of the possible impact of cancer treatment on fertility.

Methods: In a cross-sectional survey of African American women with early-onset breast cancer, demographic and clinical variables were compared with patient awareness and physician discussion of potential fertility loss.

Results: For women in our sample (N = 48), 45.8% reported being aware of the potential impact of cancer treatment on fertility, and 56.3% reported that their providers discussed fertility with them. Bivariate analyses demonstrated that awareness was significantly higher in women diagnosed at age ≤45 (p < 0.05), who were nulliparous (p < 0.01), or who did not have tubal ligation (p < 0.001). Provider discussion was more often reported by patients who were diagnosed in stages 2/3 (p < 0.05) and had no children (p < 0.01).

Conclusion: Study results suggest potential health disparities in reproductive health among early-onset breast cancer patients and demonstrate missed clinical opportunities to provide information about fertility that may impact long-term quality of life in early-onset African American breast cancer patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Black People*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / ethnology
  • Breast Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Florida
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Infertility / chemically induced*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Registries


  • Antineoplastic Agents