Philanthropy supporting future fertility for child cancer patients

September marks Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and at The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH), this month is a reminder of the battles fought by young patients and their families against this serious disease.  

In the face of childhood cancer, the goal of the hospital is clear: to offer unwavering support and comfort, to stand by families through tough times, and to help guide the way to recovery.  

As part of this collective effort, there’s a special team which is committed to improving the lives of children and adolescents whose fertility may be impacted due to cancer treatment or other medical conditions: the Oncofertility Service. 

Associate Professor Yasmin Jayasinghe, Paediatric Gynaecologist and Director of the Oncofertility program, said she is incredibly proud of the oncofertility team for supporting RCH staff and families through hundreds of fertility consultations and close to 750 fertility preservation interventions. 

“Through guidance and training, RCH clinicians have demonstrated increasing confidence in the implementation of oncofertility care, and the RCH is a world leading provider in the field,” says Yasmin.  

“The decision to proceed to fertility preservation is highly individualised and requires an assessment of medical safety, risk to fertility and family priorities. We have to ensure we are acting in the child’s best interests. 

“Fertility is highly valued by cancer survivors. For many people the decision to choose to attempt parenthood or not is intrinsic to their wellbeing. Oncofertility is founded in the principles of the Child’s Right to an Open Future, and in 2021 we were recognised by the Australian Human Rights Commission for protecting the reproductive rights of children.” 

Thanks to the generous support of donors to the RCH Foundation, this team is ensuring that cancer patients are receiving coordinated best practice care, enabling sick children and their families to make informed decisions about their fertility and long-term options. 

“This work supported by the RCH Foundation laid the foundation for the establishment of the Australian New Zealand Consortium in Oncofertility (ANZCO). The ANZCO clinical trials network is developing national guidelines for paediatric oncofertility. We hope that this collaboration will build capacity and produce the next generation of leaders in oncofertility clinical care and research in the region,” Yasmin says. 

The oncofertility team at the RCH is proud to be celebrating a decade of service, and their focus for the next phase of this program is on achieving sustainability through digital transformation. 

“The development of digital tools and guidance, such as risk calculators, decisional tools for clinicians and families, and the streamlining of workflow across the sector, aims to support clinicians and families at the point of care,” says Yasmin. 

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month isn’t just a date on the calendar; it’s a reminder that every child’s journey deserves support, courage and strength. A commitment to oncofertility care at the RCH embodies this. 

To support vital patient and family centred care initiatives like the Oncofertility Service at the RCH, and to have a meaningful impact on the lives of children with cancer, donate today.