Cancer Therapy and Your Fertility
by Carolyn R. Kaplan, MD
Each year, cancer occurs in about 113 out of every 100,000 women under age 50 in the United States. Complicating matters, the trend toward delaying childbearing means that many women will not have had children when they are diagnosed. While it is known that cancer therapy can affect a woman’s fertility, fewer than 25 percent of oncologists inform women about their risks and options. Men with cancer have long been able to preserve their fertility by freezing their sperm. Unfortunately, sperm quality is often affected by cancer, and there may be poor sperm quality at the time of diagnosis.
Changing the Conversation
Advances over the past decade of cancer research have fundamentally changed the conversations that Americans can have about cancer. Although many still think of it as a single disease affecting different parts of the body, research tells us – through new tools and technologies, vast computing power, and new insights from other fields – that cancer is, in fact, a collection of many diseases whose ultimate number, causes, and treatment represent a challenging biomedical puzzle. Yet cancer’s complexity also provides a range of opportunities to confront its many manifestations.
What’s New in Cancer Research
The theme of the 2011 ASCO Annual Meeting, “Patients. Pathways. Progress.” was borne out in the scientific sessions at McCormick Place in Chicago in both the news that came out of the meeting and in the attitudes and philosophies espoused by this year’s presenters and honorees. It is impossible to summarize all of the new science and clinical updates presented at the Meeting — the largest oncology meeting in the world — but this article highlights a few of the presentations that particularly illuminate the collective theme of the meeting.
Air Travel During Cancer Treatment
by Donald J. Melancon
When you are undergoing cancer treatment, traveling probably presents a special challenge because your energy levels and immune system are likely diminished by chemotherapy or radiation. The following ideas may help you limit exposure to infections and save your limited strength during times of travel.
Surfing the Web for Cancer Information
by Janet Teixeira, LCSW
The Internet can be a tremendous source of information for people with cancer, but it can also instill fear and pessimism that can have a negative effect on a person’s ability to cope with and beat this disease.
Obtaining Your Medical Records
It is a good idea to have a copy of your medical records. For example, medical records are generally requested for a second opinion. However, the laws for obtaining records vary by state. Many states allow medical records to be released directly to the patient. Other states require that medical records be sent directly to the consulting physician.
Advancements in Fertility Preservation Provide New Options for People with Cancer
Many young people who’ve just learned that they have cancer also are told that the therapies that may save their lives could rob them of their ability ever to have children. Infertility caused by chemotherapy and radiation affects a sizable population: Of the 1.5 million people diagnosed with cancer in 2009, nearly 10 percent were still in their reproductive years.
by Angela R. Bradbury, MD, Colleen Burke Sands, MPH,
and Linda Patrick-Miller, PhD
Thousands of women have had BRCA testing to evaluate their risk for breast and ovarian cancer. After testing, many people and their doctors are able to make decisions about their healthcare. But another decision – if and when parents should tell their children – is less clear.