Document Type: Research Articles
Department of Clinical Oncology, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, Karachi, Pakistan.
Introduction: Infertility after cancer treatment can cause significant emotional stress and grief for cancer survivors. In this study we assessed knowledge and perceptions among young cancer patients regarding the topic of cancer and infertility related to different treatment options. Material and Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted on young cancer patients in the Clinical Oncology Department, JPMC, Karachi, from January to August 2013. Patients were requested to fill in questionnaires. Comparisons between gender and age groups were performed using the Student’s t test and Pearson’s Chi-squared. Significance was concluded with a two tailed p-value less than 0.05. Results: The survey included 368 cancer patients, 194 males and 174 females. Ninety percent of respondents of either gender were not aware that cancer or cancer treatment can cause infertility, this being age dependent (P=0.06). However, on being made aware, 98% of males and 91% of females wanted their oncologist to discuss treatment-related infertility prior to initiating cancer treatment (P=0.005) and 92% and 78%, respectively, wanted to consider fertility preservation techniques prior to treatment (P<0.0001). Of age groups 15-30 years and 31-50 years, 91 % and 81% wanted to consider FP prior to cancer treatment (P =0.011). Among 226 married individuals, 89% males and 79% females underestimated that effects that infertility issues might have on their relationships with their spouses. Conclusions: We recommend physicians and oncology care givers to initiate discussion of the topic of cancer and treatment-related infertility with young cancer patients during their initial management planning.