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Legacy in the News: Legacy Cancer Institute Study Empowers Patients with Fertility Preserving Information

KGW NewsChannel 8

January 21, 2013

The diagnosis and treatment of cancer often poses a threat to fertility in both female and male patients. If addressed early, the likelihood of preserving fertility is much greater in patients prior to starting therapies through sperm and egg preservation. However, recent reports have found that implications of cancer treatment are often not proactively discussed with patients at the time of diagnosis.

That is why Legacy Cancer Institute recently conducted the “Fertility and Cancer Quality Study” to determine if concerns patients have related to fertility are properly addressed before, during, and after treatment. The study also explored how physicians address the subject and subsequently, how they refer patients who wish to bank sperm or eggs.

“There’s nothing that grabs your heart more than somebody who didn’t hear about it and then survives. Then later on they think, 'I would love to have children,' but it’s not an option,” explained Nathalie Johnson, MD, Medical Director of Legacy Cancer Institute, Legacy Breast Health Centers and a board-certified surgical oncologist with Legacy Medical Group.

“Patients who are going to get chemotherapy or patients who are going to receive pelvic radiation may be impacted,” said Dr. Johnson.

Darcy Davidson, a Northeast Portland mom, appreciates every moment with her active toddler after taking proactive steps to preserve her fertility when she was diagnosed with stage 4 Lymphoma. Davidson had just one month to preserve her chance to be a mom. “When we retrieved the eggs we got three and we used them all,” she recalled.

The result was two-year-old Luna who is a reminder why doctors should discuss fertility options with cancer patients. National studies show 60 percent of physicians are doing so and a recent Legacy study showed Oregon doctors doing even better.

“We found with Legacy physicians it was over 60 percent and sometimes 70 percent of patients were offered information and felt good about their fertility options,” offered Dr. Johnson.

“For me knowing that we had a future waiting was as big a part as saving my life as the medicine, thinking about the future for cancer patients is good medicine,” Davidson added.
Legacy Cancer Institute conducted the study after the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) reported that many oncologists do not address the issue of potential infertility, or do not address it sufficiently from the outset of the diagnosis. Legacy Cancer Institute did their own internal audit of how medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists and surgeons at all Legacy Health medical centers address this important issue.

To watch KGW’s story click here