In 2022, breast cancer continued to be the leading form of cancer diagnosed in Australian women (20,428 women diagnosed, Reference 1).
The next three 'most frequently diagnosed' cancers in women during that period were colorectal cancer, lung cancer, or uterine cancer (cominbed 21,617 women, Reference 1).
So prevalent is breast cancer, that it accounted for approximately the same number of these 'next three-most-frequently diagnosed' cancers in 2022 (20,428 vs. 21,617, Reference 1).
For this reason, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women under the age of 50 (Reference 2), and causes more Australian women to undergo cancer treatment. This is for a cancer that occurs at a relatively early age where, statistically, treatment is more likely to impact their fertility.
Thankfully, the vast majority of young Australian women undergoing breast cancer treatment (at all stages of the cancer) have an excellent 5-year survival rate (91%, Reference 3) and a very high 10-year survival rate (86%, Reference 4).
This means the vast majority of Australian women undergoing cancer treatment can expect to go on to lead healthy, productive lives with their families.
However, cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, for both men and women, have a significant potential to cause fertility issues in women by damaging the eggs or reproductive organs. Similarly, though at a lower incidence, these treatments can cause fertility issues in men.
For these and other more personal reasons, fertility in oncology (oncofertility) is a large part of obstetrics, gynaecology, and fertility planning in Australia.
There is no sure way of knowing whether or not a person's fertility will be negatively affected after cancer treatment. Fertility in oncology (or onco-fertility) is more a case of being proactive, and being better off safe than sorry.
If a patient hasn't made any fertility plans before undertaking cancer treatment, it could be too late.
For women, your eggs can be collected and frozen, or if you have a partner, embryos can be grown and frozen.
For men, your sperm sample can be collected, analysed, and frozen before you start your cancer treatment. Frozen sperm can be stored for many years and used later to help you and your partner have a family.
Roche Diagnostics Australia is a leader in both oncology and fertility diagnostics. We provide tests for screening to support fertility, prenatal testing, and even managing bone health.
In oncology, we are Australia's largest diagnostics company and a supplier of high-medical-value assays, in a powerful combination with state-of-the-art diagnostic instruments and digitally integrated workflows. By supporting these survivors of cancer, we are supporting families and helping provide better outcomes for everyone in Australia.
Every major city in Australia has a quality fertility clinic that can help you, so you can start treatment without worrying about how it will affect having a family in the future.
We invite you to watch the above video and encourage you to actively discuss your fertility options with your clinician as required.
Reference 1 - https://www.melbournebreastcancersurgery.com.au/statistics.html#:~:text=While%2075%25%20of%20breast%20cancer,are%20diagnosed%20with%20breast%20cancer (Last accessed 11/5/23)
Reference 2 - https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/cancer (Last accessed 11/5/23)
Reference 3 - https://ncci.canceraustralia.gov.au/relative-survival-stage-diagnosis-female-breast-cancer (Last accessed 11/5/23)
Reference 4 - https://ncci.canceraustralia.gov.au/outcomes/relative-survival-rate/10-year-relative-survival (Last accessed 11/5/23)