For many female cancer survivors, the preservation of reproductive potential is central to quality of life (QOL), and concerns regarding infertility may affect treatment decisions. Despite the existence of several consensus guidelines supporting routine fertility preservation consultation, to the authors’ knowledge little is known regarding psychological outcomes in female cancer patients who undergo fertility preservation counseling/consultation (FPC), with or without fertility preservation (FP).
This literature review examined the effect of FPC alone, or with FP, on psychological outcomes including satisfaction, decisional regret, and QOL. PubMed and PsychINFO were systematically searched for English-language publications from the earliest available publication date of each database through March 2015. Among 111 unique articles concerning oncofertility, 13 met inclusion criteria: peer-reviewed articles reporting primary data regarding satisfaction and psychological outcomes among women who underwent FPC alone or with FP.
A majority of women receiving FPC reported that the possibility of FP was instrumental to improved coping. Receiving FPC reduced long-term regret and dissatisfaction concerning fertility, and was associated with improved physical QOL and trends toward improved psychological QOL. Women also desired prompt, standardized, and written information addressing perceived unmet needs specific to oncofertility. Offering FPC was perceived as critical regardless of age or parity.
To the best of the authors’ knowledge, little research to date has addressed the impact of FPC alone, or with FP, on QOL in women with cancer. Clinicians should recognize the existing evidence base supporting the psychological benefit of prompt FPC. Future research must be conducted to elucidate the long-term psychosocial effects of FP.