Disparities in Counseling Female Cancer Patients for Fertility Preservation

Angela K. Lawson*, Jamie M. McGuire, Edernst Noncent, John F. Olivieri, Kristin N. Smith, Erica E. Marsh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: Female cancer patients who are exposed to gonadotoxic chemotherapy are at risk of future infertility. Research suggests that disparities in fertility preservation counseling (FPC) may exist. Previous research is limited by recall bias; therefore, this study examined objective electronic medical chart data regarding FPC at an academic medical center. Materials and Methods: This study included reproductive-aged women (18-45 years old) with a diagnosis of breast, gynecological, or hematological cancer and who were exposed to a gonadotoxic chemotherapeutic agent from 2009 to 2013. Chi-square and logistic regression analyses were utilized to analyze disparities in FPC. Results: Two hundred fifty-nine women met the study criteria. One hundred eighty-one women were diagnosed with breast cancer, 52 with hematological cancer, and 26 with gynecological cancer. 160/259 (62%) women had documented counseling for fertility preservation (FP), 60 (23%) women were not counseled as counseling was determined to be "not applicable," 16 (6%) women were not counseled and no explanation was given for the lack of counseling, and counseling was not documented in 23 (9%) charts. Age, marital status, and racial/ethnic background were related to counseling status. Patients with gynecological or hematological cancer were more likely to be counseled than other patients. Logistic regression results demonstrated that FPC was largely driven by cancer diagnosis. Conclusions: Although cancer diagnosis was the greatest predictor of FPC, disparities were evident in the counseling of female cancer patients for FP treatment. Equality in counseling female patients for FP treatment is imperative to reduce the risk of emotional harm and future infertility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)886-891
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Women's Health
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2017


  • Reproductive health
  • cancer
  • health disparities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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