Fertility Lost-Fertility Found: Narratives from the Leading Edge of Oncofertility.
Narrat Inq Bioeth. 2017;7(2):147-150
Authors: Woodruff TK
A cancer diagnosis at a young age creates one of the most existential crises one can imagine. The good news is that for many of these young patients, they will survive their diagnosis. They will be told of the side effects of treatment including loss of hair but will not be told of the other losses associated with their reproductive function-loss of menstrual cycles, early menopause and the potential for pregnancy for women, loss of viable sperm for men, and loss of sexual libido in both cases. Not all cancer treatments result in the same series of fertility effects so one of the issues that physicians face is determining what the best course of fertility sparing options should be. That dilemma is in the best cases-in many more cases the patients are not told about the potential loss of fertility and are left with a myriad of financial and psychological decisions and costs that they navigate on their own. The stories in this symposium capture this unfolding series of events. Some cases result in good prognosis and fertility options that are appropriate and the patients are happy with the outcome. Others express regret and loss of potential now beyond their reach. As a practitioner in the field I find these narratives reinforce how important the broad research field of oncofertility is. These patients are at the forefront of emerging technologies and emerging medical interactions between disciplines that were miles away from each other. The stories illuminate the individual and the universal and are critical to the overall context of this field.
PMID: 29056645 [PubMed - in process]