Oncofertility in Canada: an overview of Canadian practice and suggested action plan
Cancer can be a devastating diagnosis. In particular, malignancy and its indicated treatments have profoundly negative effects on the fertility of young cancer patients. Oncofertility has emerged as a new interdisciplinary field to address the issue of gonadotoxicity associated with cancer therapies and to facilitate fertility preservation. In Canada, these fertility issues are often inadequately addressed despite the availability of resources. The goal of this four-part series is to facilitate systemic improvements in fertility preservation for adolescent and young adult Canadians with a new diagnosis of cancer.
Here, we describe the services currently available in Canada and the challenges associated with their utilization. Finally, we outline strategies to help maximize and facilitate fertility preservation in the young cancer patient.
Despite an existing infrastructure to the oncofertility system in Canada, the ability of that system’s components to function together and to coordinate patient care is a challenge. Areas of weakness include poor access and referral to fertility services, a lack of readily available education for patients and health care providers, and inconsistent interdisciplinary coordination in patient care.
The implementation of a framework for multidisciplinary resource allocation, education, patient referral, and established lines of communication may facilitate a functional oncofertility system in Canada.