This Navigator topic is your stepping stone to finding quality, current online information on cancer treatment and fertility preservation from a range of reputable sources. It is not meant to be comprehensive, but rather to provide a starting point to information seeking.
It is aimed at women recently diagnosed with breast cancer who are still of reproductive age and are thinking of starting a family, or who may want to have children in the future. Having access to quality information to help you make informed decisions is vital.
Please note: Information resources provided in the Navigator do not imply promotion or endorsement of particular third-party services. Please speak with your own treating team for medical information and referral to services.
Chemotherapy and hormonal therapy treatments for breast cancer may have an impact on your fertility (your ability to have children).
You may not be thinking about having children right now, but you may want to in the future. It is important to therefore understand:
Not all treatments necessarily affect fertility:
If fertility is important to you, you must make sure that your doctor knows this is a priority before you start your treatment.
Having children may be the last thing you want to think about right now. However, talking to a health professional sooner rather than later can help you to understand the long-term effects of your treatment and options available to you.
“That’s my biggest regret because I could’ve had eggs frozen. It’s as time goes by and as life becomes a little bit more back to normal, as it can be, and you see the holes, big holes that are left” (A Qualitative Analysis of Reproductive Issues Raised by Young Australian Women with Breast Cancer, Centre for Health Research-School of Public Health, Qld University of Technology 2006)
Below is a list of fertility-related questions you may want to consider when seeking information about fertility preservation. These questions may help you decide about the treatment of your breast cancer. You might want the answers to some of the questions straight away, while some may become important later on. You may want to ask these questions of your surgeon, oncologist, breast care nurse or other member of your health care team. You can ask the questions as they appear here, or use them as a guide to put together your own questions.
From Fertility-related choices : a decision aid for younger women diagnosed with breast cancer / Peate, M.; Butow, P.; Fallon Ferguson, J.; et al. — Sydney: Prince of Wales Hospital. Psychosocial Research Group, 8 March 2010. (Monograph) : 70 pages. , 29125
and from “What to ask, when – questions for younger women with breast cancer, Western Breast Service Alliance, 2004
This list provides links to the websites of organisations with a particular focus on fertility preservation. The link will direct you to the home page where you can search their site independently. Many of the links are to US based organisations as there are only a few Australian organisations or websites entirely dedicated to fertility preservation and cancer treatment.
A statutory authority funded by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services. VARTA provides independent information and support for individuals, couples and health professionals on fertility and issues related to assisted reproductive treatment. This includes IVF, surrogacy and donor-conception.
ONTrac at Peter Mac is a cancer service for adolescents and young adults. The service provides a range of clinical services, including fertility counselling prior to cancer treatment.
This list has links to key pieces of evidence-based information directly related to fertility preservation, and includes downloadable fact sheets, pamphlets, PDF documents and web pages. Information resources provided below do not imply promotion or endorsement of particular third-party services. Please speak with your own treating team for medical information and referral to appropriate services.
This page provides links to a 2020 video, Fertility Preservation, and the My Journey online tool (register to view), which includes a section on fertility. Includes personal stories of women making fertility decisions before going through treatment.
Learn about the important issues in considering fertility preservation before cancer treatment, methods available and factors that impact on the available choices. Hosted by Fiona McRae and presented by Genia Rozen, Consultant Gynaecologist specialising in fertility, reproductive endocrinology and fertility preservation. This webinar was recorded in at Women's Health Victoria on 17 June 2019.
A decision-aid booklet for young women diagnosed with breast cancer. You can download a copy or obtain a hard copy through the BCNA website. It provides information in an Australian context including differences between fertility clinics and the different laws in each state.
A booklet produced by the UK-based Breast Cancer Now (formerly Breast Cancer Care) about fertility issues and breast cancer treatment. It discusses how treatment may affect your fertility, ways of preserving fertility and well as pregnancy after treatment. The booklet can be downloaded and printed or read online.
This web page explains how cancer treatment can affect fertility and options for treatment and decision making. Scroll down to download the booklet 'Fertility and cancer'.
Explains how cancer treatment may affect fertility and what can be done to preserve fertility.
Links to information on fertility preservation and treatment options. This is not an endorsement of Melbourne IVF. Please speak with your own treating team for medical information and referral to appropriate services.
This web page from Melbourne IVF discusses the ways cancer treatment can affect fertility, and the range of options available for preservin fertility.
Toolkit that aims to increase awareness of fertility preservation options for cancer patients, and to educate patients about the effects of cancer treatment on hormonal health. Links to their app, iSF (iSave Fertility Support) available from the iTunes store.
This is a list of hard copy resources such as books and DVDs that are not readily available online.
A multimedia booklet and DVD which explores the issues affecting young women with breast cancer, as told by a group of young women, in their own words. The DVD and booklet are available for women living in Victoria and can be sent out by contacting the Counterpart Resource Centre. You can also download the booklet and watch the DVD online.
BreaCan, Melbourne, 2006
This list directs you to websites containing personal stories both written and in video format, and includes blogs and online forums. The information contained in these links reflects the personal experiences of individuals and does not necessarily constitute evidence-based research or information.
Fertility information for pre-menopausal women diagnosed with early breast cancer. Includes a personal story and discussion from a breast cancer specialist and family therapist. Register to view the recording and you will be emailed a link.
Fertility specialist Kate Stern provides information and advice to help you make decisions about your fertility. The video includes the stories of Mallory, Kate, Shari and Jane who were all diagnosed with breast cancer as young women.
Monica, a woman who was diagnosed with oestrogen-receptive breast cancer at 29, tells her story.
Blog of young Canadian woman, Stephanie Gilman, who in 2012 was diagnosed with breast cancer at 28. She discusses her hopes of having children and the decisions involved. In November 2016 she gave birth to a baby boy – and another in June 2019. (Not currently being updated but her fertility story is still online.)
A Canadian organisation that provides fertility preservation information. The website contains personal stories of people's experiences with breast and other cancer treatment, and fertility preservation.
Australian online breast cancer forum that features posts about fertility issues.
Know a personal story we could share? Give feedback below.