- Question from LNB: Where can I find resources/referrals in my area to find a fertility doctor that can help me—now or after cancer?
Leslie R. Schover, Ph.D.
One way that you might be able to do that is to contact the organization Fertile Hope. Although their offices are in New York, they're an advocacy group that has a special focus on fertility in cancer. They may have a list of people around the country who have a special interest in cancer and fertility.
Another source is the organization Resolve, which is an advocacy agency for people with fertility problems, and again, has a list of referrals. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) is another possibility. They can tell you where the IVF clinics are in your area.
- Marisa Weiss, M.D. It's hard to get an appointment quickly with a busy infertility practice. Do you have any suggestions on how to push your way into the schedule quickly, so you can seek infertility evaluation before starting chemotherapy or hormonal therapy?
- Leslie R. Schover, Ph.D. Ask your oncologist to intervene for you, especially if s/he has a special relationship with any of the reproductive endocrinologists in your area.
- Kutluk Oktay, M.D. That's a very practical problem. The real solution to that is a reproductive endocrinologist who specializes in fertility preservation in cancer patients.
- Leslie R. Schover, Ph.D. But realistically, outside of major medical centers, you won't find someone like that.
- Kutluk Oktay, M.D. Yes, that's a problem. So if you're near a major multidisciplinary medical center, you'd have a better chance of finding someone like this. In my practice, we see our patients within 24-48 hours, depending on the patients' circumstances. But usually doctors will do a better job of convincing other doctors to see their patients.
- Marisa Weiss, M.D. Medical insurance often pays for medication to help manage side effects of chemo, like anti-pain or anti-nausea medications. Will medical insurance help pay the cost of infertility when it is likely to be a side effect of breast cancer treatment?
- Kutluk Oktay, M.D. We oftentimes argue this exact point with insurance companies, and some of them do buy the arguments and some of them don't. Some patients end up putting up a lengthy fight, and some give up. But my suggestion is that if every patient makes the same argument, we may be able to change their minds on this issue. Unfortunately, some insurance companies don't follow this logic.
- Marisa Weiss, M.D. It's certainly worth pushing.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Pregnancy and Fertility Issues featured Kutluk Oktay, M.D., Leslie Schover, Ph.D., and moderator Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about pregnancy and fertility before, during, and after breast cancer treatment, as well as the options of adoption and gestational carriers (surrogate mothers).
Editor's Note: This conference took place in August 2004.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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