Annals of Surgical Oncology

, Volume 26, Issue 10, pp 3210–3215 | Cite as

Physician Perspectives on Fertility Preservation Discussions with Premenopausal Breast Cancer Patients: Results from a Multihospital Health Care System

  • Maria C. Masciello
  • Alex J. Bartholomew
  • Michelle Haslinger
  • Laura M. Bozzuto
  • Shawndeep S. Tung
  • Renee Thibodeau
  • Ekaterini V. TsiapaliEmail author
Breast Oncology



Ten percent of new breast cancer diagnoses occur in premenopausal women, and oncologic therapies may compromise fertility. Thus, fertility preservation discussions (FPDs) and referral to fertility specialists are imperative prior to initiation of therapy. A previous retrospective chart review showed 45% FPD rates at our institution. The aim of this study is to investigate physician perspectives and limitations regarding FPD.


An electronic survey was distributed to 30 surgical, medical, and radiation oncologists across ten regional hospitals. Questions addressed provider demographics, and barriers to and facilitators of FPD.


The survey response rate was 63.3%. Only 31.6% of physicians reported “always” documenting FPD. Respondents opined that the physician prescribing systemic therapy was the most appropriate person to provide FPD. Patient age, treatment with chemotherapy, and patient desire for FPD were more likely to increase FPD (p < 0.0001, p < 0.05, and p < 0.0001, respectively). The majority of physicians (84.2%) expressed intent to increase FPD rates.


Fertility preservation is an integral aspect of breast cancer care, requiring thorough discussion and clear documentation. This study identified that physicians believe the medical oncologist is the most appropriate person to have FPDs with patients and that empowering patients to bring up fertility concerns may improve rates of FPDs. Education of physicians and patients about fertility preservation techniques is likely to improve FPDs.


Authors’ Contribution

M.C.M., A.J.B., and E.V.T. assisted with study design, data interpretation, and article creation. M.H., L.M.B. and S.S.T. assisted with study and survey design. R.T. assisted with article preparation. All authors gave final approval.



Supplementary material

10434_2019_7563_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (144 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 144 kb)


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Copyright information

© Society of Surgical Oncology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria C. Masciello
    • 1
  • Alex J. Bartholomew
    • 1
  • Michelle Haslinger
    • 2
  • Laura M. Bozzuto
    • 2
  • Shawndeep S. Tung
    • 2
  • Renee Thibodeau
    • 2
  • Ekaterini V. Tsiapali
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Georgetown University School of MedicineWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Division of Breast Surgery, Department of SurgeryMedstar Georgetown University HospitalWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.Department of SurgeryMedStar Georgetown University HospitalWashingtonUSA

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