Lindsay Petersen, MD
I walked into an examination room at our multidisciplinary breast clinic to see Jill, a 25-year-old single elementary school teacher who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Jill was a known BRCA gene mutation carrier, and her mother and a cousin were currently receiving treatment for breast cancer. Because her cousin was diagnosed at age 35, Jill opted to start screening at age 25. During Jill’s first screening, cancer was detected, and it had already spread to her axillary lymph nodes. Jill arrived at the appointment with her parents. When I asked her why she was seeking care at our clinic, because she and her mother reported that they were extremely happy with the treatment her mother was receiving at an outside institution, Jill replied that she was interested in fertility preservation and knew she would have options at a tertiary care center.
Now that my son has arrived, it has hit home how important it is to discuss fertility preservation options with our patients. Women need to hear that breast cancer is treatable, their fertility can be preserved, and they can become mothers despite their diagnoses. Our sole focus should not be just treating the cancer. We must treat the whole patient, taking into consideration survivorship issues and oncofertility at the very first appointment.
Loren AW, Mangu PB, Beck LN, et al. Fertility preservation for patients with cancer: American Society of Clinical Oncology clinical practice guideline update. J Clin Oncol. 2013;31(19):2500- 2510. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2013.49.2678.
... to read the full story