Longitudinal follow-up in female Childhood Cancer Survivors

PanCareLIFE researchers from EMC and VUmc have published ‘Longitudinal follow-up in female Childhood Cancer Survivors: no signs of accelerated ovarian function loss’ (Human Reproduction, Vol.32, No.1 pp. 193–200, 2017).

You can read the full open access publication here.

STUDY QUESTION: Is the long-term decline of ovarian function, as reflected by a decrease in serum anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) concentration, accelerated over time in female childhood cancer survivors (CCS) as compared to healthy women of the same age?

SUMMARY ANSWER: The median decline of AMH levels in long-term female CCS is not accelerated and similar to that observed in healthy controls.

WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: Gonadal function is compromised in female CCS treated with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. Ovarian function is most compromised in survivors treated with total body irradiation, abdominal or pelvic irradiation, stem cell transplantation or high doses of alkylating agents.

STUDY DESIGN SIZE, DURATION: Longitudinal single-centre cohort study in 192 CCS in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, between 2001 and 2014.

PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: Serum AMH levels of 192 adult female CCS were assessed, at least five years after cessation of treatment and at a follow-up visit with a median of 3.2 years (range: 2.1–6.0) later and were compared to the age-based P50 of AMH in healthy controls.

MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: Median AMH levels were below the P50 at both visit 1 (−0.59 µg/L) and at visit 2 (−0.22 µg/L). In women with a sustained ovarian function (AMH > 1.0 µg/L), the decline in AMH is similar to that in the normal population (difference in decline per year: −0.07 µg/L (range: −2.86 to 4.92), P = 0.75). None of the treatment modalities was correlated with a signifi- cant acceleration of decline of AMH per year.

LIMITATIONS REASONS FOR CAUTION: We selected CCS that visited our late effect outpatient clinic and who had two AMH levels available. It is conceivable that women without any apparent late effects of treatment as well as women with extreme late effects, which might be the ones with the largest impact on ovarian function, could be more likely to be lost to follow-up. However, general characteristics did not differ between the included and excluded patients.

WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: While prospective longitudinal research is required to strengthen our findings, they may help physicians to counsel female CCS about their expected reproductive lifespan.