Through improvements in cancer treatments there has been an increase in the number of cancer survivors. The increasing numbers calls for a more critical examination of the quality of life issues in survivorship, including reproductive health and fertility. It is no longer enough to have survival – quality survival is required, and that initiative begins at the time of a patient’s diagnosis. Improving the quality of cancer care and the quality of life for cancer survivors are two National Cancer Institute (NCI) strategic objectives and it is through an NCI funded grant that we have established an innovative online training program, Enriching Communication Skills for Health Professionals in Oncofertility (ECHO).
Despite evidence that patients want information about reproductive health, the existing research finds large gaps between recommended and actual clinical practice related to discussion of fertility preservation options with cancer patients. Allied health professionals (AHP), nurses, social workers, psychologists, and physician assistants, play a key role in the care of cancer patients throughout the care continuum and are in strategic position to discuss quality of life issues such as reproductive health with patients. This web-based training program that includes psychosocial, biological, clinical and skill building modules to help AHPs communicate timely and relevant information regarding reproductive health to their adolescent and young adult (AYA) patients.