Oncofertility Resources at NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers

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  • a From the Division of General Internal Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University Chicago, Illinois; Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, Florida; LIVESTRONG, Fertile Hope, Austin, Texas; and Adventist Health Partners, Hinsdale, Illinois.
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NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers (CCCs) set the standard for providing exemplary patient care. Quality cancer care includes discussions about fertility and referrals to fertility specialists for patients at risk for sterility. This study sought to determine what fertility preservation (FP) resources are available in CCCs and how well those are integrated into patient care. Leaders at each CCC received a letter requesting a short telephone interview with individuals who could provide information about the institution’s FP resources. A semi-structured interview guide was used and responses were audio-recorded. Data were analyzed using content and thematic analysis. Interviews were conducted with 30 of the 39 CCCs that see adult patients (77%). The remaining institutions included 4 nonresponders, 3 that referred the interviewers to childhood cancer survivorship clinics, 1 that refused, and 1 that could not identify any FP resources. Participants were primarily affiliated with reproductive endocrinology (n=15) or hematology/oncology divisions (n=10). Institutional policies regarding consistent provision of FP information were rare (n=4), although most sites (n=20) either had some services on-site or had referral programs (n=8). However, only 13 had some experimental services, such as ovarian tissue cryopreservation. Respondents reported barriers to provision of FP, including oncologists’ identification of patients at risk, low referral rates, and perceptions of patient prognosis. Only 8 (27%) sites had staff with time dedicated to FP. CCCs vary widely in implementing FP-recommended practice to their patients. CCCs are positioned to provide exemplary oncofertility care, but most need to better integrate FP information and referral into practice.

Correspondence: Marla L. Clayman, PhD, MPH, 750 North Lake Shore Drive, 10th Floor, Chicago, IL 60611. E-mail: m-clayman@northwestern.edu
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