PDF icon Medical hope, legal pitfalls: Potential legal issues in the emerging field of oncofertility

Gregory Dolin, MD, JD; Dorothy E. Roberts, JD; Lina M. Rodriguez, Teresa K. Woodruff, PhD.  49 Santa Clara L. Rev. 2009

The United States annually spends over  $200 billion on cancer treatment and research. Over the past several decades, tremendous progress has been made in combating this disease.  The five-year survival rate for cancer has increased from thirty-five percent in 1950-1954 to sixty-seven percent in 1996-2004.  Moreover, over the last forty years, survival rates for childhood cancer have risen from twenty percent to eighty-one percent. However, the very success of new and improved therapies has created a host of problems that were not previously considered.  One of the results of the increased rate of post-cancer survival is the commensurate desire of former cancer patients to return to healthy lives, which for many includes having children.'  Unfortunately, for many this desire is difficult to fulfill, because the medication that succeeded in battling cancer is also quite often toxic to the reproductive organs.  Thus, many people are able to live longer lives, yet feel that their lives are incomplete because they became infertile. Whereas in the past fertility was not even part of the discussion when deciding on the proper treatment, now it is a top concern of many newly diagnosed cancer patients...