beth israel deaconess medical center a harvard medical school teaching hospital

  • Contact BIDMC
  • Maps & Directions
  • Other Locations
  • Careers at BIDMC
  • Smaller Larger

Find a Doctor

Request an Appointment

Smaller Larger

Having Children after Cancer

Posted 12/30/2015

Posted in

  Decisions about having a child must be among that the most important, private, and challenging choices we ever make. (With the obvious exception of unplanned pregnancies). For couples who have had cancer, this issue can be even more fraught with intense feelings and worries.

  Adding a cancer history to the equation really adds two factors: worries about mortality and perhaps leaving a child without a mother or father and infertility or physical changes due to treatment that may make achieving and carrying a pregnancy more difficult or impossible. I have known a number of women who have gone on to have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies after cancer treatment, and I know others who have successfully and happily adopted children.

  This article from The European Journal of Cancer Care is the first I have seen that explores the motivations for having a child post cancer. Here is the abstract and a link to read more:

Motivations for having children after cancer – a systematic
review of the literature

R. SCHMIDT, MA, PSYCHOLOGIST, D. RICHTER, MA, EDUCATIONALIST, A. SENDER, MA, PSYCHOLOGIST, & K. GEUE, PHD,  , Department of Medical Psychology and Medical Sociology, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany SCHMIDT R., RICHTER D., SENDER A. & GEUE K. (201 )

Over the last decade, fertility-related issues have come to the fore of clinical oncology. The majority of research though has focused on a medical perspective without considering reproductive motivations that influence decisions on fertility-preserving options. In order to identify specific parenthood motivations in young survivors of various types of cancer, a systematic review of the literature was conducted. Relevant literature was searched manually and using databases (Medline/PubMed, PsycInfo). Of 4848 articles retrieved, 20 studies met a priori defined inclusion criteria. Cancer was found to have a likely effect on reproductive intentions. All studies reported on specific reproductive concerns, mostly related to negative consequences for the patient or on the future child. Pregnancy concerns were overrepresented in breast cancer survivors. Practical barriers to post-cancer parenthood were financial or partner-referred. Overall, fewer incentives than disincentives for post-cancer parenthood were reported. They included the importance of parenthood, achieving normality and a desire to focus on the positive. As reproductive motivations and concerns affect the majority of cancer survivors of reproductive age, they should be assessed as early as possible post-diagnosis. While researchers should focus on the development of appropriate assessment methods, clinicians might address specific reproductive concerns.


Add your comment