Reproductive intentions in childless female adolescent and young adult cancer survivors

Christina M. Lam, Ksenya Shliakhtsitsava, Shaylyn S. Stark, Alexa C.O. Medica, Kelsey A. Pinson, Brian W. Whitcomb, H. Irene Su

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the association between prior cancer treatments, medical comorbidities, and voluntary childlessness in reproductive-age women who are survivors of cancers diagnosed as adolescents and young adults (AYA survivors). Design: Cross-sectional analysis. Setting: Participants were recruited from California and Texas cancer registries, fertility preservation programs, and cancer advocacy groups. Patient(s): Women (n = 413) ages 18–40 who were diagnosed with cancer between ages 15 and 35, completed primary cancer treatments, had at least one ovary, and were nulliparous. Intervention(s): Cancer treatment gonadotoxicity and medical comorbidities. Main Outcome Measure(s): Voluntary childlessness. Result(s): The mean age of survivors was 31.8 years (SD, 4.9) with a mean of 6.5 years (SD, 4.4) since cancer diagnosis. Breast (26%), thyroid (19%), and Hodgkin lymphoma (18%) were the most common cancers. Twenty-two percent of the cohort was voluntarily childless. Medical comorbidities, cancer diagnosis, prior surgery, prior chemotherapy, and prior gonadotoxic treatments were not significantly associated with voluntary childlessness. In adjusted analysis, survivors of older reproductive age (adjusted odds ratio = 2.97 [1.71–5.18]) and nonheterosexual participants (adjusted odds ratio = 4.71 [2.15–10.32]) were more likely to report voluntary childlessness. Conclusion(s): A moderate proportion of AYA cancer survivors are voluntarily childless, but reproductive intentions were not related to cancer type or cancer treatments. AYA survivors of older age and nonheterosexual identification were more likely to be voluntarily childless. These data support assessing reproductive intentions and tailoring reproductive care such as fertility and contraception counseling that is appropriate for a survivor's intentions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)392-399
Number of pages8
JournalFertility and sterility
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2020


  • Voluntary childlessness
  • cancer
  • survivor
  • young adult

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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