Addressing Barriers to Fertility Preservation for Cancer Patients: The Role of Oncofertility Patient Navigation.
BACKGROUND: Infertility is a common late effect for cancer survivors. Whereas assisted reproductive technology has made it possible for survivors to take steps to preserve fertility before starting treatment, only a minority of patients proceed with preservation. Patient-, provider-, health system-, and societal-level barriers to fertility preservation (FP) exist. Oncofertility patient navigation is a valuable resource for addressing FP barriers. OBJECTIVES: To highlight the critical role of oncofertility patient navigation in addressing barriers to FP within an academic oncofertility program. METHODS: The role of the oncofertility patient navigator in reducing FP barriers, promoting informed decision-making, and ensuring program sustainability is described. Program metrics illustrating the impact of oncofertility patient navigation on referrals for FP counseling and access to FP in the last year also are provided. DISCUSSION: The oncofertility program at our academic adult and pediatric medical centers aims to facilitate rapid referral to fertility counseling and preservation services for postpubertal cancer patients. The patient navigator is integral to the success of the program. The navigator ensures that patients are: (1) well-informed about the potential impact of cancer on fertility and FP options, (2) aware of available resources (eg, financial) for pursuing FP, (3) able to access FP services if desired, and (4) well supported in making an informed FP decision. The inclusion of the patient navigator has led to an almost 2-fold increase in referrals for FP counseling in the past year over the historic annual average. CONCLUSIONS: Our institution's oncofertility program, with patient navigation at the core, provides a potential model for increasing patient access to oncofertility care and promoting program sustainability. Oncofertility patient navigation is a valuable resource for providing patients and families with education and support regarding FP decision-making, as well as addressing the multilevel barriers to FP.
Dorfman, CS; Stalls, JM; Mills, C; Voelkel, S; Thompson, M; Acharya, KS; Baker, KC; Wagner, LM; Miller, N; Boswell, A; Corbett, C
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