Information Needs for Younger Women

Research Article

The fertility- and menopause-related information needs of younger women with a diagnosis of breast cancer: A qualitative study

Belinda Thewes 1 *, Bettina Meiser 2, Judy Rickard 3, Michael Friedlander 1

1Department of Medical Oncology, Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney, Australia 2Department of Psychological Medicine, Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, Australia 3NSW Women's Breast Centre, Royal Hospital for Women, Sydney, Australia

email: Belinda Thewes ( *Correspondence to Belinda Thewes, Department of Medical Oncology, Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick. NSW 2031, Australia


The use of chemotherapy and endocrine therapies in the treatment of pre-menopausal women carries with it reproductive and gynaecological implications which younger women may find both unpleasant and discordant with plans for childbearing.

This study aims to investigate the fertility- and menopause-related information needs of younger women with a diagnosis of early breast cancer. A retrospective qualitative methodology was chosen.

Twenty-four women aged between 26 and 45 years at diagnosis participated in focus group interviews and telephone interviews.

Many women thought that the information they had received in the past about fertility and menopausal symptoms was either insufficient or unavailable.

Some women felt that, while information on fertility and menopause issues had not been paramount at the time of diagnosis, it became increasingly important after diagnosis. Participants spoke about the need to revisit or review fertility- and menopause-related information with their doctors during the course of treatment.

Many women believed that information about fertility should be given prior to or during treatment decision-making, and that information related to the management of menopausal symptoms should be delivered during or after treatment when menopausal symptoms begin.

Consultation with a fertility and/or menopause specialist-rated as the most preferred mode of receiving fertility- and menopause-related information.

Clinical implications are drawn from the results of this study to assist clinicians and researchers to improve their communication with younger patients about the fertility- and menopause-related side effects of breast cancer treatment.

Psycho-Oncology Volume 12, Issue 5, 2003. Pages: 500-511

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