Medical advances in the treatment of childhood cancers have increased survival rates to about 83%. With eradication of cancer comes a normal lifespan into adulthood when issues like fertility arise. Cancer treatments in adults can impair or permanently prevent pregnancy, but little is known about the long-term effects of these treatments when used to treat child cancer. Researchers in Germany recently published a study on the long-term effects. The study was published in the Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology.

In Germany, children who undergo cancer treatments are noted in the German Childhood Cancer Registry. Researchers sent questionnaires to children (now adults) listed in the registry. A total of 618 responses were received from 384 women and 234 men. Using the answers, researchers split the respondents into fertile and infertile groups. About 30% of 83 women and 29% of 117 men who’d undergone fertility testing were considered infertility. Infertility increased with pelvic radiation and use of certain drugs like etoposide in women and carboplatin and men and women also increased risk of infertility.

Conclusion: Parents of children with cancer need to be informed of fertility preservation options. Both men and women could have an increased risk of infertility of about 30%.

Source: Reinmuth S, Hohmann C, Rendtorff R, Balcerek M, Holzhausen S, Müller A, Henze G, Keil T, Borgmann-Staudt A. Impact of chemotherapy and radiotherapy in childhood on fertility in adulthood: the FeCt-survey of childhood cancer survivors in Germany. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2013 Oct 2.