TEENAGE cancer patients are missing out on the chance to become parents in later life because they are not getting enough information about their future fertility, an expert has said.
Many teenage cancer patients are not being given enough information about their fertility preservation services, nurse fertility specialist Valerie Peddie said.
Sometimes future fertility issues are not taken into account when planning care, Ms Peddie told the Royal College Nursing’s International Centenary Conference.
She highlighted previous research which indicates that the situation is worse for teenage girls.
Although teenage boys are routinely offered sperm banking services, research shows that few teenage girls are given the opportunity to discuss their fertility options prior to treatment for cancer because the process is more complicated, she added.
Ms Peddie, senior charge nurse and fertility specialist at Aberdeen Centre for Reproductive Medicine, said: “For so long, cancer treatment has focused on one thing - survival.
“But while this will always be the priority for any cancer patient and those treating them, we have now progressed to a point where many patients have the time to explore their options and think about life after cancer.
“Deciding whether to have children is a central part of many lives, and no one should be denied this opportunity because they were unaware of their options.
“Teenage patients are unlikely to have even considered their future fertility or know it could be impacted by their cancer treatment, therefore it is essential that these issues are raised and discussed by health care staff.
“Until recently, fertility preservation in young women was considered experimental, however, advances in technology now afford young female patients equal opportunities to their male counterparts.
“It’s vital therefore, that we move towards a time when all young people diagnosed with cancer can benefit from these treatments which have the potential for positive outcomes in the future.”
Meanwhile the conference will also hear that care for pregnant women in UK immigration detention centres is “unacceptable”.
Delegates are expected to be told that many of these women had been victims of rape, torture and trafficking - but they are not getting the specialist help they need.
Family nurse Morag Forbes will tell the conference: “These are among the most vulnerable women we have ever cared for and the levels of health care they receive are completely unacceptable.”