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September 2018

Fertility Preservation Discussions With Male Adolescents With Cancer and Their Parents: “Ultimately, It’s His Decision”

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Endocrinology, Department of Pediatrics, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus
  • 2Center for Biobehavioral Health, The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio
  • 3Division of Psychology, Department of Pediatrics, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus
  • 4Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, New York University School of Medicine, New York
JAMA Pediatr. 2018;172(9):799-800. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.1534

Handling fertility consultations with adolescent boys (aged 13 to 17 years) who have recently received a cancer diagnosis poses a logistical challenge. In this hypothetical case based on cumulative patient encounters, a 15-year-old boy who recently received a diagnosis of Ewing sarcoma sat silently in his hospital bed as we asked about his thoughts on having a child in the future and discussed the option of sperm banking. We had spoken to his parents separately, and they acknowledged the importance of addressing this topic and pursuing fertility preservation “just in case.” At the end of the conversation, the patient said, “I don’t want to do it.” His parents asked if he wanted to think more about it, and he fiercely shook his head no. They looked at us, shrugged, and stated, “Sorry, he’s just angry about everything right now.… Ultimately, it’s his decision.”

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