Radiation therapy to the abdominal and pelvic regions in children and adolescents may potentially expose the ovaries to radiation and cause premature ovarian failure. Though their window of opportunity to become pregnant may be smaller, receiving radiation therapy does not preclude them from natural conception and a successful pregnancy. The researchers developed a formula that takes into account the age of the patient at the time of treatment, the number of premature eggs present at the time of treatment and the dose of radiation received to determine a window of fertility and at what age the woman may experience ovarian failure.
With the help of modern three-dimensional radiation therapy planning, clinicians are able to determine how much radiation the ovaries are exposed to and using the method they developed, the doctors would be able to determine a window of roughly 7.6 years for when a woman could expect to become infertile. The exact window of opportunity will vary from patient to patient.
"Our research has made it possible for doctors to predict when a young woman who has been successfully treated for cancer will develop ovarian failure," said Hamish Wallace, M.D., lead author of the study and Senior Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh and a children's cancer specialist at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh, Scotland. "This will allow doctors to treat them with hormone replacement therapy and prevent osteoporosis and other disabling symptoms of the menopause. This knowledge will also guide patients and doctors to
Contact: Beth Bukata
American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology