The 25th Annual Conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology warned childhood cancer survivors that pregnancy could be riskier than they thought. Chances of premature labor, early delivery and hemorrhage higher in certain cancer cases.

 Dr. Lie Fong and fellow researchers compared the pregnancy data on 40 women who had been treated for childhood cancer to 9000 women who never presented with cancer. According to the records, the women who were treated with abdominal radiotherapy were more likely to deliver babies prematurely. In addition to premature births, the woman also presented with a higher than average rate of post delivery hemorrhage.

While chemotherapy and radiotherapy are known to diminishe egg supplies in women, this does not mean all eggs are destroyed during the cancer treatment. Women who survive the cancer can conceive naturally, but cancer survivors need to be watched carefully by their Ob-Gyn and give birth in the hospital as opposed to an alternative birthing choice.

Egg damage could, however, lead to earlier menopause for cancer survivors. "We have yet to see whether the effects of cancer treatment include an earlier menopause," said Dr. Lie Fong "and this possibility should be borne in mind when counseling these women on their reproductive options."

The study also revealed a potential link between radiotherapy of the head and infertility. Women who receive radiotherapy of the head can suffer damage to the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is responsible for the production of the luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone which aid in ovulation.

Source: / July 2009