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Houston Fertility Center

Fertility Preservation and Oncology

By Sonja Kristiansen, MD on April 22, 2009

In this New York Times piece, Jane Brody quotes the University of North Carolina's Fertility Preservation Program as estimating that a mere quarter of U.S. oncologists address fertility issues with their patients prior to infertility-causing chemo or radiation treatments.

It's encouraging to see someone as widely read as Ms. Brody helping put the word out about fertility preservation. However, she was a tad off the mark in her reference to the obstacles of cost and timing.

In fact, rather than the "tens of thousands of dollars" that Brody says fertility preservation will cost cancer patients, fertility specialists can assist women with egg freezing for roughly half that amount. Simply freezing sperm costs even less. Creating embryos and then freezing them is the most costly option, but patients should consider that the transfer and resulting monitoring (and related fees) will be delayed by a few years. Additionally, many reproductive experts are aligning with Fertile Hope's Sharing Hope program to further alleviate the financial burden for eligible patients.

Timing is particularly important to oncologists and their patients. Contrary to Ms. Brody's comment about appointment scheduling taking "months," some fertility specialists are especially vigilant about getting cancer patients in within days of their diagnosis.

Kudos to Jane Brody and the New York Times for continuing to spread the word. It is this sort of attention from highly respected media outlets that will eventually encourage more oncologists to make fertility preservation part of standard patient care.

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