Only a small subset of women who survive childhood cancer will become sterile as a result of their cancer treatment. In these cases, sterility develops as a result of “acute ovarian failure,” when the ovaries shut down, and most commonly occurs after high levels of ovarian radiation, researchers report in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
“These results confirm and extend our understanding of the risk factors for developing acute ovarian failure among females who are treated for a malignancy during childhood or adolescence,” senior investigator Dr. Charles A. Sklar told Reuters Health.
Sklar of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York and colleagues examined the medical records of female participants in the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study. The subjects, who were at least 18 years old, were consider to have acute ovarian failure if they had never menstruated or had stopped menstruating within five years of their cancer diagnosis.
Out of a total of 3390 eligible survivors, acute ovarian failure developed in 215 (6.3 percent). Acute ovarian failure risk factors that were not dependent on the presence of other risk factors included increasing doses of ovarian radiation (at least 1000-cGy), exposure to procarbazine and to cyclophosphamide between 13 to 20 years old.
“The data from our study,” concluded Sklar, “will assist clinicians in counseling patients and their families at the time of the initial cancer diagnosis and will facilitate selection of high-risk individuals who might benefit from novel fertility preservation techniques.”
SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, May 2006.
Revision date: June 11, 2011
Last revised: by Andrew G. Epstein, M.D.