Oncologists May Often Fail to Refer for Fertility Counseling

Study finds female oncologists most likely to refer cancer patients of childbearing age
By Jeff Muise
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Oct. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Less than half of U.S. oncologists refer their cancer patients of childbearing age for counseling on fertility preservation, according to a study published online Oct. 13 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Gwendolyn P. Quinn, Ph.D., of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., and colleagues analyzed data from a 53-item survey administered by the American Medical Association to a stratified random sample of U.S. oncologists to determine if fertility preservation counseling referral rates are in accordance with guidelines from the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

The authors note that, of the 613 respondents, only 47 percent routinely refer cancer patients in their childbearing years to a reproductive endocrinologist for evaluation. Among the clinicians most likely to refer were female physicians, physicians with favorable fertility preservation attitudes as reflected on the survey, and physicians whose patients asked about fertility preservation.

"Less than half of U.S. physicians are following the guidelines from the American Society of Clinical Oncology, which suggest that all patients of childbearing age should be informed about fertility preservation," Quinn and colleagues conclude.

One of the study authors reported receiving consultant/advisory fees and research funding from several pharmaceutical companies.

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