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Survivors of Rare Ovarian Cancer may Retain Menstrual Function and Reproductive Ability

A new prospective study suggests that ovarian germ cell tumour patients treated with platinum-based chemotherapy and fertility-sparing surgery may retain their menstrual function and reproductive ability.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, also found that despite having reproductive and sexual concerns, survivors were more likely than their healthy counterparts to be involved in meaningful, positive relationships.

Researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and the Gynecologic Oncology Group claim that this is the largest and most comprehensive survey of survivors ever conducted.

Lead author of the study, Dr. David Gershenson, says that germ cell tumours, a disease in which malignant cells form in the germ or egg of the ovary, constitute just five percent of all ovarian cancers diagnosed.

He explains that there has been a tremendous amount of interest in fertility because it relates to germ cell tumour survivors. Ovarian germ cell tumours often occur in girls and young women, with the average age of diagnosis occurring in the teenage years.

"Before the 1970s, there was no effective treatment for ovarian germ cell tumour patients and the death rate was extremely high. However, with the introduction of platinum-based combination chemotherapy, there's been a dramatic increase in survival, with cure rates now reaching close to 100 percent.

Simultaneously in the 1970s, gynaecologic oncologists began to realize that fertility-sparing surgery could be performed safely and without compromising a woman's curability," says Dr. Gershenson.

During the study, the researchers surveyed 132 germ cell tumour survivors formally enrolled in M. D. Anderson or Gynecologic Oncology Group clinical trials all over the nation. Each patient received platinum-based combination chemotherapy following surgery. The women were compared to 137 health
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