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Oncofertility in the Northeast: A Newcastle University PhD Study

by Alexis Paton, Policy Ethics & Life Sciences Research Center, Newcastle University, UK

As our awareness of the long term effects of cancer treatment on patients grows, so does our understanding of the needs of cancer survivors. Oncofertility is a relatively new field of medicine that is concerned with both cancer treatment and fertility preservation for cancer patients.  As cancer survivorship increases it has become increasingly more important to consider both effective treatment and life after cancer for patients when designing treatment plans.  Many cancer treatments can have lasting negative effects on a patient’s fertility, which in turn may be difficult for survivors to cope with. For these reasons medical professionals have started to consider fertility concerns alongside cancer treatment, moving the preservation of fertility out of the realm of ‘after-thought’ and into the here and now of patient treatment.

My thesis is focused on investigating the developing medical field of Oncofertility in the United Kingdom, specifically the Northeast. I am working on a study that explores the experiences of premenopausal female breast cancer patients, with regards to their future reproductive health, as well as the experiences of the health care professionals (such as doctors, nurses, radiographers etc.) who treat them.

I am interested in hearing about breast cancer patients and their health care professionals’ experiences with regards to fertility and reproduction before and after cancer treatment. I am particularly keen to investigate how patients and their health care professionals make decisions about fertility and cancer treatment during this difficult time. In addition to patients, I will also be talking to health care professionals from the Northern Centre for Cancer Care and the Newcastle Fertility Centre who are treating breast cancer patients. I would like to gain an insight into how patients and health care professionals understand the relationship between cancer treatment and patient fertility. By hearing accounts from both patients and health care professionals, I hope to gain an in-depth picture of the key issues in the areas of fertility and cancer medicine.

This research will help identify those areas where further support and information may be required for patients, as well as health care professionals, with regards to fertility preservation for cancer patients.

If you would like to know more about my project or are interested in participating please visit the project website at www.oncofertilityinthenortheast.co.uk

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