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Childhood cancer and fertility

Decisions made at the start of treatment can have long-term effects, so it’s a good idea to find out about treatment and fertility as early as possible.

It might feel impossible right now to think ahead to a distant future where your child is having children of their own. But it’s something you should probably consider as some cancer treatments will impact their ability to have children. Decisions made at the start of treatment can have long-term effects, so it’s a good idea to find out about treatment and fertility as early as possible.

If your child is turning 18, they will be the ones who make this decision but they still may want your support.  


Getting information about childhood cancer treatment and fertility

Our support team can’t give you medical advice, but we know from experience what a serious issue this can be. We encourage you to seek out information that will help you make decisions. Here are some things you can do: 

  • Talk to the treating team who may refer you to a fertility expert, or you can ask to talk with one
  • Ask your team to explain what effects treatment could have on fertility and what options there are to preserve it
  • Some families are comfortable talking about sex, but for others this can be awkward. Unfortunately, a lot of young people don’t find out about their fertility options purely out of embarrassment. Talk to your hospital social worker or Redkite’s support team to support you through awkward discussions
  • Read the Cancer Council’s ‘Fertility and Cancer’ guide

It may help to give your teenager some time alone to talk to the medical team, or to ask your hospital social worker to help them through the conversation. Reassure them they don’t need to be embarrassed to talk to their medical team about sex or any other questions they might have – before treatment, during treatment, or afterwards. They are the best people to give your teen informed answers, and there probably isn’t a question your child could ask that they haven’t answered many times before.


There probably isn’t a question your child could ask that their medical team haven’t answered many times before


What if treatment has already started?

If treatment has already started or even finished, it’s not necessarily too late to find out about fertility options. Organise an appointment with your child’s doctor or treating team as soon as possible, no matter what stage of treatment you’re at.

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