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Cancer survivors at greater risk of birth complications; special monitoring needed
Date:7/1/2009

n in age-matched controls."

The ovarian reserve, or capacity of the ovary to provide eggs capable of fertilisation, is established in the foetus and decreases during a woman's reproductive lifetime. Women with a poor ovarian reserve are less likely to conceive, even with assisted reproduction therapies, than those with a normal number of eggs. They may also have an earlier menopause, as their stock of eggs is exhausted at a younger age.

Long-term, multi-disciplinary follow-up for female child cancer survivors is mandatory, the researchers say. Although at the start of treatment, future fertility may not be of great concern to care providers, it is to the patient's parents. And during follow-up, survivors should be made aware of the possible late effects of their treatment.

In addition to the deleterious effects of abdominal radiotherapy on reproductive function, radiotherapy to the head can also cause problems by causing the hypothalamus to reduce the production of follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, both important in promoting ovulation. "We believe that it is particularly important for all female children who are treated for cancer, and their parents, to be made aware of this risk. Our research has also shown how important it is that, if they do become pregnant, childhood cancer survivors should be closely monitored throughout their pregnancy and that they are delivered in a clinical setting, rather than at home."

The researchers say that even if at first fertility seems normal for childhood cancer survivors, there may be problems later in life. "We have yet to see whether the effects of cancer treatment include an earlier menopause," said Dr. Lie Fong, "and this possibility should be borne in mind when counselling these women on their reproductive options."


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Contact: Mary Rice
mary@mrcommunication.org
European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology
Source:Eurekalert

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