A comparison of heterosexual and LGBTQ cancer survivors’ outlooks on relationships, family building, possible infertility, and patient-doctor fertility risk communication

Andrea M. Russell, Kathleen M. Galvin, Maya M. Harper, Marla L. Clayman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: Little research about cancer-related infertility has examined the experiences and needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ) cancer survivors. This research seeks to understand how LGBTQ survivors are similar to or different from heterosexual survivors with respect to cancer treatments’ effects on relationships, plans for parenthood, and fertility preservation decision making. Methods: Semi-structured telephone interviews conducted with adolescent or young adult (AYA) cancer survivors (n = 56) were coded for themes. Interviews consisted of questions about pre- and post-diagnosis thoughts about relationships, parenthood, possible infertility, and how information about fertility risks was received. Results: While LGBTQ (n = 22) and heterosexual (n = 34) survivors reported similar challenges when dating post-diagnosis, heterosexual survivors were more likely to report fertility concerns as affecting romantic relationships (p <.05). LGBTQ survivors seemed more open to raising non-biological children or not becoming a parent than heterosexual survivors. LGBTQ survivors generally reported being satisfied with or indifferent to the information that they were given regarding fertility loss, despite reporting receiving similar amounts of information as compared to heterosexual patients (p <.10). Conclusions: LGBTQ patients’ views on relationships, parenthood, and family building seemed to result in less distress when faced with infertility. However, interventions facilitating information exchange about dating, fertility risks, and family building options may be valuable to LGBTQ and heterosexual cancer survivors. Implications for Cancer Survivors: LGBTQ cancer survivors may display more adaptive coping with respect to relationships and fertility loss. Oncology professionals may want to proactively introduce positive coping strategies to reduce distress among AYA cancer survivors at risk for infertility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)935-942
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cancer Survivorship
Volume10
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

Keywords

  • Adolescent and young adult (AYA)
  • Cancer survivors
  • Fertility preservation
  • LGBTQ
  • Oncofertility
  • Psychosocial needs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)

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