The important patient aspect some cancer centers forget about

There's an aspect of patient life that many hospitals forget when creating a cancer treatment plan — fertility.

The rate of cancer among people younger than 50 jumped nearly 13% to 107.8 per 100,000 population from 2000 to 2019. With younger patients come more considerations, including the ability to conceive following cancer treatment.

Some hospitals will diagnose a patient with cancer and immediately go into treatment without considering the patient's fertility or desire to conceive in the future. 

"We know that surgery, chemotherapy and radiation patients undergo may have significant deleterious implications and effects in terms of being able to conceive in the future," David Rivadeneira, MD, physician-in-chief and clinical strategic initiatives at Eastern Region Northwell Health and director of Northwell Health Cancer Institute at Huntington (N.Y.), told Becker's

About five years ago, New York City-based Northwell Health became one of the first systems in the country to create a fertility program for patients undergoing cancer care. The program, which helps both men and women, uses a multidisciplinary team of radiologists, OB-GYN, and urologists to help patients preserve their eggs and sperm before treatment begins. This allows patients to receive care without worrying about their ability to grow a family in the future.

The program is also developing new ways to help pregnant women receive treatment while keeping the pregnancy safe. 

"A lot of health systems don't have something this specialized," Dr. Rivadeneira said. "Thankfully, it is not an everyday occurrence, but it happens enough that we knew we had to develop a program for fertility care."

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