Issue: 2014 > June > original article

Practice, attitude and knowledge of Dutch paediatric oncologists regarding female fertility

A. Overbeek, M. van den Berg, , E. Wendel, M. ter Kuile, G. Kaspers, A. Stiggelbout, E. van Dulmen-Den Broeder, C. Hilders


Background: Chemotherapy and radiotherapy for
childhood cancer can result in a decreased reproductive
function. It is therefore important that paediatric
oncologists discuss the possible impact of treatment on
female fertility and available fertility preservation options
with their patients. However, it is unknown what Dutch
paediatric oncologists know about of the effect of cancer
treatment on female fertility, whether or not they address
this issue in clinical practice, what their attitudes are
towards addressing fertility after cancer treatment and
fertility preservation options, and to what extent they
require additional information resources. Methods: In this nationwide quantitative cross-sectional study a survey was sent to all registered paediatric oncologists in the Netherlands (n=64). Results: Thirty-seven paediatric oncologists participated (participation rate 58%). Fertility issues were discussed with patients and/or parents by 97%. Of the paediatric oncologists, 54-76% were aware of possibilities for fertility preservation; however only <25% reported a moderate or high confidence in their knowledge of these techniques. Paediatric oncologists stated that they had little resources to counsel their patients and 92% found educational resources not completely sufficient. Conclusion: Paediatric oncologists are well aware of the effect that cancer treatment may have on female fertility and their responsibility to counsel their patients and/or the parents on this issue. They do not (yet) possess the knowledge to sufficiently counsel these patients and, if needed, do not frequently refer them to a fertility specialist.