Washington: A University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) study has found chemotherapy to have a greater impact on women’s reproductive health than estimated at present.
The researchers say their analysis of the age-specific, long-term effects of chemotherapy provides new insights that will help patients and clinicians make more informed decisions about future reproductive options, such as egg harvesting.
Previous studies largely have focused on amenorrhea, or the lack of menstruation shortly after treatment, as the primary reproductive side effect of chemotherapy.
In this analysis, the researchers also focused on longer-term, age-specific outcomes associated with chemotherapy, including infertility and early menopause.
They also noted that the younger a woman is when diagnosed with cancer, the more likely she will experience early menopause.
“We found chemotherapy essentially narrows a woman’s reproductive window by causing a range of damage to the ovaries, even if her menses resume after chemotherapy,” said Mitchell Rosen, MD, senior author and assistant professor in the UCSF Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences.
The study has been published online in the journal Cancer.