July 17, 2012 | Posted By Lisa Campo-Engelstein, PhD

Around 10% of all people diagnosed with cancer are in their reproductive or pre-reproductive years (under age 45). This means that, each year, approximately 133,000 women, men, and children who are diagnosed with cancer are at risk for infertility due to the very treatments (e.g. chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery) that can save their lives. Given improved survivorship rates, fertility concerns have emerged as an important quality of life issue to cancer survivors and their families. Oncofertility, a new and interdisciplinary field at the intersection of cancer and fertility, is working to address potential infertility as a result of cancer treatment. 

Although more cancer patients are being offered and are using fertility preservation technology (FPT), its cost and the lack of insurance coverage for it are often the major reasons given by oncologists for why they do not provide information on fertility preservation options to their patients. One method of ensuring people in their reproductive years or children who are diagnosed with cancer have access to and insurance coverage for FPT is to create a legal mandate requiring insurance companies to cover FPT for cancer patients. 

So this is precisely what we did! Partnering up with a variety of organizations, including the Oncofertility Consortium, the Cancer Legal Resource Center, Fertile Hope, and the Lance Armstrong Foundation, we drafted legislation that was introduced in California as “AB 428 - Health Care Coverage: Fertility Preservation” by Assembly Member Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) on February 18, 2011. Unfortunately, this bill died in committee in February 2012.

However, thanks to the enthusiastic advocacy work by Dr. Raphael Yechieli, as well as the important scholarly work upon which these policies and laws in support of insurance coverage for FTP for cancer patients is based, a resolution was introduced at the AMA Annual meeting last month affirming the need for insurance coverage of FPT for cancer patients. We are proud of our role in this effort and will keep you posted on any updates!

This blog was also published with the Navigating Cancer Survivorship blog and with the Oncofertility Consortium.

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers graduate online masters in bioethics programs. For more information on the AMBI master of bioethics online program, please visit the AMBI site.
1 comments | Topics: Bioethics and Public Policy , Bioethics and the Law , Reproductive Medicine , Women's Reproductive Rights



Andy wrote on 08/22/12 12:44 AM

This is great news that Oncofertility is working to address potential infertility because of cancer treatments. I wish more could be done to affirm the need for insurance coverage of FPT for cancer patients.

Add A Comment
(it will not be displayed)

BIOETHICS TODAY is the blog of the Alden March Bioethics Institute, presenting topical and timely commentary on issues, trends, and breaking news in the broad arena of bioethics. BIOETHICS TODAY presents interviews, opinion pieces, and ongoing articles on health care policy, end-of-life decision making, emerging issues in genetics and genomics, procreative liberty and reproductive health, ethics in clinical trials, medicine and the media, distributive justice and health care delivery in developing nations, and the intersection of environmental conservation and bioethics.