Yesterday we posted a blog about the 36th annual APHON (Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses) Conference being held right now in Pittsburgh, PA. It’s an exciting time for us because not only do we have a member of the Oncofertility Consortium presenting on fertility perseveration at the conference (Barbara Lockart, MSN, RN, CPNP, CPON), but also because APHON has recently released a position statement entitled, Fertility Preservation for Pediatric and Adolescent Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Patients. The strides that have been made since the Oncofertility Consortium’s inception in 2007 are truly on display here and we couldn’t be more excited!
Nurses are often the thread connecting young cancer patients and their families to pertinent information that can sometimes be overlooked in the urgency of a cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment planning process. As studies have shown, fertility issues and options are often not addressed at diagnosis for several reasons (age of the patient, diagnosis, gaps in provider knowledge, etc.); however, several studies report childhood and AYA cancer patients are interested in learning about fertility preservation options, including those that are experimental.
It is APHON’s position that, “discussions regarding fertility preservation occur with all patients and families as early in the treatment trajectory as possible (prior to treatment whenever possible). These discussions should continue throughout treatment and follow-up care as patients continue to grow and develop.” Currently, many pediatric facilities do not have the resources available to offer fertility preservation in their institutions, but they have the option of partnering with reproductive or adult centers that provide fertility preservation services. Collaboration between centers is vital for a successful treatment experience for patients, families, and their healthcare team. The Oncofertility Consortium provides both patients and health care professionals with resources for locating established fertility preservation centers, as well as providing a national fertility hotline, FERTLINE, answered by a Fertility Preservation Patient Navigator who can provide you with additional information.
In addition to that, pediatric oncology nurses’ expertise may be needed to provide adult healthcare providers with information about the unique psychosocial and developmental needs of childhood and AYA oncology patients and their families. They can also be a great resource for patients and families who may not have enough information independently to inquire about specific issues such as cost, insurance coverage, success rates, and storage concerns.
As evidenced by their position statement, APHON is supporting the Oncofertility Consortium’s quest to ensure that all patients, providers, and caregivers have the ability to make informed decisions regarding fertility preservation in the face of a cancer diagnosis. Please take a moment to read, Fertility Preservation for Pediatric and Adolescent Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Patients, and learn more about fertility preservation resources nationwide.