PDF icon Who Decides? Decision Making and Fertility Preservation in Teens With Cancer: A Review of the Literature

Quinn GP, Murphy D, Knapp C, Stearsman DK, Bradley-Klug KL, Sawczyn K, Clayman ML. J Adolesc Health. 2011 Oct;49(4):337-46. Epub 2011 Mar 15. PMID: 21939862




The knowledge that cancer treatment may impair fertility in pediatric populations is an emerging aspect of quality of life in this population. However, decision making and use of fertility preservation (FP) among adolescent cancer patients and their families has not been well studied. This review summarizes the available published data on aspects of decision making and FP in adolescent cancer patients.


An electronic search was performed to identify peer-reviewed studies published between 1999 and 2009 using key Medical Subject Heading terms and inclusion criteria. Inclusion criteria limited eligible studies to those that focused on adolescent decision making in cancer treatment or FP, fertility concerns in pediatric oncology, capacity for decision making, and health decision making in pediatrics. Studies that did not meet at least one of these criteria were excluded.


A total of 29 articles were reviewed and summarized. Three categories of results were seen: a focus on adolescent decision making in oncology, decision making in chronic illness, and decision making in cancer-related infertility and preservation.


Most of the studies showed that adolescents have a strong desire to participate in decisions related to their cancer treatment and many have concerns regarding their future fertility, although barriers often prevented these discussions. More research is needed to explore the role of teenagers and parents in decisions about fertility in relation to cancer treatment.