Cancer is never a simple thing to have. From diagnoses to a multitude of invasive treatments that have devastating physiological effects, it is a long and harrowing process. As if that weren’t bad enough, these treatments can have profound and negative long-term affects on the body — particularly when it comes to fertility.
But what’s worse is that many of these women aren’t warned of the infertility risks they are taking before undergoing cancer treatment.
In a new study published in the journal Cancer, researchers surveyed 346 young women in an anonymous online poll. The participants were all around the age of 30 and had all completed cancer treatment an average of five years before taking the survey.
Of the participants surveyed, the poll found that 179 of them had not gone through any sort of fertility preservation before or after cancer treatments, even though they were either interested in having children or were unsure.
And while more than two-thirds of women were concerned about their ability to have children post-treatment, only 13% of patients surveyed said they had received inadequate information regarding fertility options.
“The potential loss of fertility has been described in the literature as being almost as painful, if not more so, than the cancer diagnosis itself,” said Dr. Catherine Benedict, PhD, lead author on the study, in a press release.
“Many women will maintain fertility after treatment,” Benedict told Fox News, “but will experience menopause and infertility at an early age, with no certainty about when this may occur.”
While it’s clear that fertility problems after cancer treatment are different for every woman, this uncertainty can create infertility down the line, which means a woman cannot conceive. The key is to be aware of options that they can utilize before or after undergoing cancer treatment.