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Incorporating Partners and Spouses into Oncofertility Communication

MeganJohnsonShenby Megan Johnson Shen, Ph.D.

Regardless of their gender, patients undergoing treatment for cancer list their future fertility as an important concern (Mersereau, 2012). This issue is so important that 66% of cancer patients express a desire to have children in the future (Schover, Rybicki, Martin, & Bringelsen, 1999) and female cancer survivors rate concerns about having children in the future as second only to fears of recurrence (Connell, Patterson, & Newman, 2006). Despite the fact that fertility preservation is of great concern to most cancer patients, there is currently very little guidance on how to incorporate one’s partner into the discussion. However, it is critical to learn how to involve partners and spouses in these discussions, as patients rate discussing fertility issues with their partners as more helpful than discussing it with their oncologists (Tschudin et al., 2010). This brief article attempts to outline some of the issues and concerns that should be considered when incorporating spouses and partners into oncofertility discussions.

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