PDF icon The Gynecologist Has a Unique Role in Providing Oncofertility Care to Young Cancer Patients

Duncan FE, Jozefik JK, Kim AM, Hirshfeld-Cytron J, Woodruff TK. US Obstet Gynecol. 2012 Jan 1;6(1):24-34.


Facing a cancer diagnosis at any age is devastating. However, young cancer patients have the added burden that life-preserving cancer treatments, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy, may compromise their future fertility. The possibility of reproductive dysfunction as a consequence of cancer treatment has a negative impact on the quality of life of cancer survivors. The field of oncofertility, which merges the clinical specialties of oncology and reproductive endocrinology, was developed to explore and expand fertility preservation options and to better manage the reproductive status of cancer patients. Fertility preservation for females has proved to be a particular challenge because mature female gametes are rare and difficult to acquire. The purpose of this article is to provide the gynecologist with a comprehensive overview of how cancer treatments affect the female reproductive axis, delineate the diverse fertility preservation options that are currently available or being developed for young women, and describe current measures of ovarian reserve that can be used pre- and post-cancer treatment. As a primary care provider, the gynecologist will likely interact with patients throughout the cancer care continuum. Thus, the gynecologist is in a unique position to join the oncofertility team in providing young cancer patients with up-to-date fertility preservation information and referrals to specialists.