Developing a Referral System for Fertility Preservation Among Patients With Newly Diagnosed Cancer

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The goal of this project was to develop a referral system to increase the likelihood that patients of childbearing age with newly diagnosed cancer receive timely information about fertility, and reduce the burden oncologists may feel when discussing and exploring fertility preservation options with their patients. The group developed and examined the effectiveness of a fertility preservation referral system through pilot-testing a developed patient education brochure. During the 12-month pilot-testing period, 776 patients of childbearing age (< 40 years) were seen at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and 349 brochures were taken. The reproductive endocrinologist/infertility clinic experienced a 9-fold increase in the number of calls received during the 12-month study period, with 122 calls received compared with 13 the prior year. The large increase in calls illuminates the gap in patient interest and referral, and shows an effective method to transmit this information. Improving the communication of time-sensitive information about fertility and preservation options to patients with cancer is associated with an increased likelihood of improving quality of life, reducing patient distress, and increasing use of ancillary fertility-related health services. Through referring and providing patient information, this referral system allows oncologists to fulfill their obligation and make informed decisions about fertility preservation, thereby improving the full cancer care continuum.

Correspondence: Gwendolyn P. Quinn, PhD, 12902 Magnolia Drive, MRC CANCONT, Tampa, FL 33612. E-mail: gwen.quinn@moffitt.org
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