Male patients with childhood cancer are more likely to suffer from infertility as compared to women, a cohort study has reported.
In an earlier study published in the Journal of American Medical Association, patients diagnosed with childhood cancer are found to have a higher risk of developing mental health problems and chronic diseases prompting a review on the long-term effects of chemotherapy drugs used in childhood cancers.
The recent findings, however, found that girls who underwent chemotherapy for their childhood cancers can still get pregnant, while boys who underwent the same therapy have lower chances of siring a pregnancy later in life. The cohort study links the findings to higher doses of new alkylating drugs and cisplatin.
Published in The Lancet Oncology, the study looked into the effects of the 14 most commonly used chemotherapy medications with regard to pregnancy and childbirth. The research compared 10,938 female and male survivors to 3,949 siblings.
At 45 years old, about 70 percent of the female patients got pregnant compared to 80 percent of siblings. For the male patients, only 50 percent were able to get someone pregnant against their 80 percent of their siblings.
The results showed that female survivors have lower chances of getting pregnant compared to their siblings, but their chances are still higher compared to male survivors.
Dr. Eric Chow, the study's lead author, believes that male cancer survivors who were diagnosed post-puberty should preserve their sperm in a bank to increase their chances of fertility later in life.
"However, I think, we, as pediatric oncologists, still need to do a better job discussing fertility and fertility preservation options with patients and families upfront before starting cancer treatment," Chow said.
Contemporary childhood cancer therapy helped increase survival rate, but the manner of intervention needs to include long-term health benefits like fertility. Caring for the patient does not stop with curing the cancer. An effective cancer therapy that improves short- and long-term health is the ideal path that health practitioners should tread.
National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, and the American Lebanese-Syrian Associated Charities funded the study.