Fertility Education Needs and Disparities in Female Breast Cancer Patients
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. College of Nursing Honors Theses; 2008
Purpose: To understand the perceptions that female breast cancer patients have related to their fertility and menopause education, as well as correlations between socio-economic factors and satisfaction of education. Background: Although common perceptions are that pregnancy in a woman who has had breast cancer increases the risk of cancer recurrence, research has shown just the opposite; that there is no increased risk to the mother or fetus in a pregnancy after breast cancer diagnosis and treatment (Fossa, et al, 2005). Even after cancer treatment, up to 60% of patients are interested in having children, even if the patient has a shortened lifespan (Schover, 2005). With cancer treatment, however, a woman may go through early onset menopause and have limited options regarding fertility after treatment. Studies have also shown that breast cancer patients don’t feel well informed about the fertility changes they may face as a result of their treatment or about options to preserve or extend their fertility (Duffy, Allen & Clark, 2005; Thewes, et al., 2003). Subjects: Female breast cancer patients ages 18 to 55 years old who are not currently pregnant and were diagnosed with breast cancer in the past ten years. Methods: Subjects are recruited via the patient database from the Susan G. Komen Foundation of Columbus as well as word of mouth and survey notices on other breast cancer support sites, such as the Young Breast Cancer Survivor Coalition. The survey is located on the internet at the Complementary Alternatives for Breast Cancer Survivors website and the questions are part of a larger study being done by faculty at the College of Nursing. Questions are related to; demographics, satisfaction with education received, and a brief quiz to test the participants’ knowledge in issues related to fertility and menopause. Descriptive statistics will be compiled to describe the sample population. Results: 16 women between the ages of 33 and 53 completed the survey. Half of our participants had children at the time of the survey and all of these children were born before their breast cancer treatment. Breast cancer diagnosis occurred before age 40 in 63% of the women.None of the women surveyed were asked to meet with a fertility specialist at any time throughout their treatment. 25% of the women received their fertility and menopause education information from a non-professional source, such as the internet or support groups. A significant percentage of the women reported dissatisfaction with the fertility and menopause education they received after their diagnosis.The research found a positive correlation between women who said they would have like to receive more information and those women who had to ask for more information (Pearson r = .572, p = .02). For those people who had a strong desire to have children, they desired significantly more information relating to fertility and menopause (T= -2.93, df = 10, p = .015). There was a positive correlation with overall satisfaction in education received and how well informed the women felt (Pearson’s r = .728, p < .001). There was a positive correlation between total quiz score and education attainment. The average quiz score for those women with a high school education or less was 2.8 ± .73 out of 6. The average quiz score for those women with more than a high school education was 3.36 ±.54 out of 6.
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