Fertility-related communication in cancer care

Many cancer treatments have a negative impact on patients’ future ability to have children and the project aim is to investigate how this is experienced and communicated in cancer care, from the perspective of patients, physicians and nurses.

Project description

The project includes several studies that focus on fertility-related communication in cancer care. Based on our results we have developed the educational intervention Fex-Talk that aims to enhance nurses’ readiness to discuss fertility and sexuality issues with cancer patients.

Fertility-related communication in cancer care – what information do patients receive? A population-based survey with 484 persons who in the 2000s had received cancer treatment during fertile ages (18-45 years) showed marked sex differences in received fertility-related information (Armuand et al., 2012). 80% of the men recalled having received information about treatment impact on future fertile ability, while less than half of the women had received such information. Half of the men had cryopreserved sperm but only a few women had used any fertility preservation measures. A majority of participants who had a wish for (additional) children at diagnosis still wanted to have children 3-7 years later, and an unfulfilled desire to have children was associated with worse mental health (Armuand et al., 2014).

Patients’ perceptions of fertility-related information is also investigated within the research program Fex-Can, Fertility and sexuality following cancer. The results will contribute to describe and compare perceptions of received information among women and men who were diagnosed with various cancer diseases in the 2010s.

Patients’ experiences of fertility communication. A longitudinal interview study was conducted with 21 young adults (20-41 years) who received cancer treatment with potential negative impact on future fertility. Patients participated in interviews soon after diagnosis and two years later. The results indicated that women had more negative experiences related to fertility-related communication (Armuand et al., 2015) and four qualitatively different ways to experience a threat to fertility over time were identified (Armuand et al., 2018).

Physicians’ perspectives on fertility-related communication. Physicians’ perspectives regarding communicating with patients about fertility-related issues were investigated in two national survey studies. Participants in these studies were 58 physicians working in pediatric oncology care settings (Armuand et al., 2017) and 329 physicians in cancer care for adults (Micaux Obol et al., 2017). The results showed that physicians regarded fertility an important issue for patients and more than half regularly discussed treatment impact on fertility with patients and/or parents. A number of factors related to the physician, patient or organization were identified to be of importance for physicians’ likelihood to discuss fertility issues with patients/parents.

Group members

Project leaders

Claudia Lampic

Affiliated to research

Lena Wettergren

Affiliated to research

Collaborators (selected)

Johan Ahlgren
Gabriela Armuand
Johan Arvidson
Per Ljungman
Johan Malmros
Claire Micaux Obol
Kenny Rodriguez-Wallberg


Doctoral School in Health Care Sciences
Swedish Cancer Society
Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation


For publications from this project, please see information at Claudia Lampic och Lena Wettergren.