Counselling in the context of fertility and cancer: Some sociological insights

Barbour, Rosaline; Porter, Maureen A.; Peddie, Valerie L. and Bhattacharya, Siladitya (2013). Counselling in the context of fertility and cancer: Some sociological insights. Human Fertility, 16(1) pp. 54–58.



Guidelines issued by a number of bodies highlight the importance of providing information on fertility for young adults receiving a cancer diagnosis. However, previous research has established that provision is uneven and even when information is available, counselling may not be offered. This paper draws on interviews with 15 professionals and 30 younger adults (17 – 39 years) following a diagnosis of cancer at one tertiary referral centre. Sociological insights highlight the disruption to biographies, plans, identities and personal values involved in acknowledging and responding to the impact of cancer on fertility. Patients and professionals are involved in making diffi cult decisions in a rapidly evolving situation, in terms of both progression of cancer and advances in treatments for cancer and fertility preservation. It is argued that the constellation of knowledge and skills required does not readily map onto existing professional roles and we suggest that it may be appropriate to provide further training or even to draw on the services of specialist ‘ oncofertility ’ counsellors.

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