Cancer Survivors May Face Adoption Discrimination

Posted by Rheta Mankin on August 23rd, 2015

As the number of living American cancer survivors nears the 18 million mark, many people are finding there is life after this disease. For those who move past the diagnosis and begin planning for their futures, creating their own families often becomes a priority. When treatments make natural reproduction impossible, adoption may be a viable option. New research, however, is showing that some cancer survivors may face discrimination when attempting to adopt. In some cases, in fact, adoptions agencies may require survivors to be disease-free for at least 5 years before an adoption will be allowed to proceed.

The study in question was conducted by 77 oncology nurses who took an e-training course related to reproductive health for cancer survivors. These nurses conducted telephone interviews with adoption agencies found in 15 different states. The results indicated significant issues for cancer survivors who attempted to adopt.  

The results of the study were recently published in Cancer. The study’s authors concluded that agencies that require physician notes, for example, may be applying an unfair, discriminatory standard. They assert there is no evidence to suggest cancer survivors are limited in their abilities to provide children with healthy, stable and loving homes.

While measures to address the study’s findings were not laid out, researchers say they do point to a need for oncology nurses to be very familiar with reproductive health issues and adoption procedures to be able to properly counsel patients. Nurses in this field are often the educators and advocates for patients. Understanding the obstacles cancer survivors may face, therefore, is critical for nurses in this role.

People who are diagnosed with cancer are urged to discuss their reproductive health concerns with their physicians. There are measures that may sometimes be taken to preserve reproductive capabilities. The first step involves opening a dialogue with a patient’s healthcare team before treatments begin.

About Author
Lewisville/Flower Mound Oncology Group, a division of Choice Cancer Care – is an independently owned and operated oncology practice that is completely focused on unique, comprehensive patient care.

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Rheta Mankin

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Rheta Mankin
Joined: July 2nd, 2015
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