Female reproductive function after treatment of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia.



The aim was to evaluate self-reported reproductive characteristics and markers of ovarian function in a nationwide cohort of female survivors of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), because prior investigations have produced conflicting data.


Self-reported reproductive characteristics were assessed by questionnaire among 357 adult 5-year survivors, treated between 1964 and 2002, and 836 controls. Ovarian function was assessed by serum levels of anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and inhibin B and by antral follicle count (AFC). Differences between controls and (subgroups of) survivors (total group, chemotherapy [CT]-only group, CT and radiotherapy [RT] group) were analyzed.


Survivors treated with CT only do not differ from controls regarding timing of menarche, virginity status, desire for children, or pregnancy rates. Compared to controls, the CT+RT group was at significantly increased risk of a younger age at menarche (P < .01), virginity, an absent desire for children, and lower pregnancy rates (odds ratio [OR] [95% CI]: 0.3 [CI 0.1-0.6], 0.5 [0.3-0.9], and 0.4 [0.2-0.9], respectively). Survivors in the CT-only group were significantly younger at the birth of their first child. Pregnancy outcomes were not significantly different between any (sub)groups. Survivors treated with total body irradiation (TBI) or hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) are at increased risk of abnormal markers of ovarian function.


Reproductive function of ALL survivors treated with CT only does not differ from controls. However, survivors additionally treated with RT seem to be at an increased risk of certain adverse reproductive outcomes. Providing personalized counseling about (future) reproductive health risks in this group is imperative.

More about this publication

Pediatric blood & cancer
  • Volume 68
  • Issue nr. 4
  • Pages e28894
  • Publication date 01-04-2021

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