In a new study researchers have found that girls who survive childhood cancer are more likely to experience an early menopause when they mature than other women.
Due to advances in treatment and diagnoses over 70% of children or adolescents with cancer will survive long-term.
Dr. Charles A. Sklar and a research team at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City examined records on the incidence and risk factors for premature menopause in 2,819 women who were childhood cancer survivors.
They then compared that to information on premature menopause on 1,065 female siblings of childhood cancer survivors.
They found that early menopause occurred in 126 childhood cancer survivors and in 33 of the siblings and non-surgical, premature menopause was more common among childhood cancer survivors.
The risk factors included radiation to the ovaries and certain forms of chemotherapy.
The combined incidence of premature menopause was nearly 30 percent among cancer patients who had been treated with both abdominal-pelvic radiation and alkylating chemotherapy.
The study concluded that age, radiation to the ovaries, a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and treatment with alkylating chemotherapy increased the risk of early menopause in childhood cancer survivors.
The authors hope the results of the study will help in the counseling of current survivors about their future risk of premature menopause and will assist in the development of new treatment regimens that are less damaging to the ovaries.
The research is published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Revision date: June 18, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD