Fertility counseling for oncology patients


Elina Melik-Levine, ARNP, highlights the importance of early discussions about fertility preservation, referral pathways, and addressing socioeconomic challenges in cancer care, emphasizing the role of Miami Cancer Institute's onco-fertility program.

In a recent interview, Elina Melik-Levine, advanced registered nurse practitioner at Miami Cancer Institute, discussed fertility preservation among patients diagnosed with cancer.

According to Melik-Levine, when cancer treatment is prescribed to patients, providers should discuss options for fertility preservation with their patients. All patients must sign an informed consent forum when receiving cancer treatment, and the forum will always include a paragraph about fertility.

Providers can refer patients with additional fertility-related questions to a fertility doctor or directly to the Miami Cancer Institute, where they will not have to wait long to receive fertility consultation. Since some patients may choose not to seek fertility treatment, they should be referred to an in-house doctor before an outside doctor who may not know what to expect.

There are also socioeconomic factors to consider when recommending fertility care. Fertility coverage is unavailable to most patients in Florida, including care for personal choice and in the setting of cancer treatment. This can lead to difficult conversations between providers and patients.

Fortunately, there are organizations that help ease the financial burden among patients seeking fertility care. These centers help patients obtain grants, loans, and subsidiaries necessary to receive care. Additionally, insurance of fertility coverage among cancer patients has improved over time, indicating improving legislation.

Melik-Levine also discussed Miami Cancer Institute’s onco-fertility program. The goal of the program is for an oncologist to identify when a patient they are seeing for the first time being prescribed cancer treatment is of reproductive age or has expressed an interesting in fertility discussion.

Following this discussion, the provider should refer the patient to the onco-fertility program. This will allow staff such as Melik-Levine to reach out to patients as soon as possible, which is vital since fertility treatment can take 1 to 2 weeks. Patients can also receive a tailored education program discussing their potential care.

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