Impact of cancer treatments on fertility

From Cancer Guidelines Wiki

Impact of cancer treatments on fertility

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Many of the cancer therapies recommended for the most common cancers presenting in adolescents and young adults have the potential to cause impaired fertility in the short or long term.

For females, the major effect of cancer treatment on reproductive potential is via damage to the ovary and the oocytes with accelerated oocyte depletion. This can result in temporary or permanent ovarian failure and early menopause. Uterine damage is also a complication of pelvic radiotherapy.

For males, the major cause of impaired fertility is chemotherapy- or radiation-induced damage to sperm.

Therapies associated with the greatest risks to male and female fertility are:

  • alkylating chemotherapy agents
  • total body irradiation (as used in myeloablative stem-cell transplantation)
  • cranial irradiation

This section summarises current evidence about the likely effect of common cancer treatments on female and male fertility.

However the scarcity of data regarding rates of male and female infertility after cancer treatment and the many patient factors that may influence fertility means it is difficult to precisely quantify an individual patient’s risk of infertility.

All AYA patients should be informed of the potential risks to their fertility and reproductive health of the recommended treatment.[1][2]

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Recommended websites and resources for patients and families
Recommended websites and resources for health professionals

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  1. Levine J, Canada A, Stern CJ. Fertility preservation in adolescents and young adults with cancer. J Clin Oncol 2010 Nov 10;28(32):4831-41 [Abstract available at].
  2. Schover LR. Reproductive complications and sexual dysfunction in cancer survivors. In: Ganz PA, editor. Cancer survivorship: today and tomorrow. New York: Springer; 2007.

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