J Breast Dis.  2020 Dec;8(2):100-107. 10.14449/jbd.2020.8.2.100.

Current Practices toward Fertility Issues for Young Breast Cancer Patients: A Survey of the Korean Breast Cancer Society; The SMARTSHIP Study

  • 1Department of Surgery, Catholic Kwandong University International St. Mary’s Hospital, Catholic Kwandong University College of Medicine, Incheon, Korea
  • 2Institute of Biomedical Science, Catholic Kwandong University International St. Mary’s Hospital, Catholic Kwandong University College of Medicine, Incheon, Korea
  • 3Department of Surgery, Chonbuk National University Hospital, Chonbuk National University College of Medicine, Jeonju, Korea
  • 4Department of Surgery, Asan medical Center, University of Ulsan college of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • 5Department of Surgery, Soonchunhyang Seoul Hospital, Soonchunhyang University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • 6Breast Cancer Center, National Cancer Center, Goyang, Korea


This study aimed to investigate and analyze the current fertility-related practices for breast cancer patients; the results are intended to help improve the quality of life of young patients and survivors.
This study collected voluntary responses to a questionnaire that was used to survey Korean breast cancer specialists. The questionnaire consisted of five categories: knowledge, practice behaviors regarding fertility preservation, barriers to discussing fertility preservation, attitude toward fertility issues, and demographics and medical background.
A total of 120 copies of the questionnaire were distributed; the response rate was 89%. The section of the questionnaire regarding knowledge indicated that most respondents had adequate fertility preservation knowledge for cancer patients. However, 13.1% of the respondents indicated that they thought pregnancy increased the cancer recurrence risk. Respondents’ knowledge and attitudes about fertility preservation were not correlated with actual practice. The absence of patient’s expressions (24.30%), high recurrence risk (27.10%), insufficient time in the clinic (21.50%), and hospital conditions such as no reproductive specialists or infertility clinic (16.82%), were considered major barriers to discussing fertility issues.
Although more than 50% of the respondents thought that cancer treatment is more important than fertility preservation and it is complex and difficult, the Korean breast surgical oncologists were generally encouraging when discussing fertility issues with young breast cancer patients. Hence, breast clinicians should share with young patients the updated evidence regarding the feasibility and safety of pregnancy after cancer treatment and the available options so that the best decisions can be made.


Breast neoplasms; Fertility preservation; Survivorship
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