In 1971, the National Cancer Act was signed in to law to find a cure for cancer through research and clinical trials. Since that time, scientists have learned many nuances about cancerous cells and tissues and significantly increased survivorship rates for many cancers. Where a cancer diagnosis used to be a death warrant, today it can be a manageable disease.
As survival rates increase, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), which coordinates federal funding of research, training, and education about cancer, has increased their efforts in survivorship issues, such as secondary cancers and infertility. To support this mission, the NCI included the Oncofertility Consortium in a national list of organizations that provides services to cancer patients and caregivers.
In addition to providing information to patients, the NCI communicates to the larger broader cancer community through its biweekly online NCI Cancer Bulletin. The current version of the newsletter is the NCI’s 250th and includes the article, “Preserving Fertility While Battling Cancer.” The piece discusses the gap between clinical guidelines and fertility preservation care for patients. Fortunately, researchers around the country are developing new fertility preservation treatments and developing tools that will help young patients make significant decisions about their future in the short period of time between diagnosis and treatment. The article highlights some of these researchers, including the Oncofertility Consortium's director, Dr. Teresa Woodruff. Continued support from the NCI will someday allow all young cancer patients to spare their fertility and, simultaneously, receive life-saving cancer treatments.