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Does Chemotherapy as a Child Cause Infertility

  • Published on December 30, 2022
Does Chemotherapy as a Child Cause Infertility

Does Chemotherapy as a Child Cause Infertility? 

According to research, some cancer treatments potentially affect fertility in children. However, the impact may differ between girls and boys. The complication of cancer treatments can last forever or shorter span of time compared to the advanced stage of cancer one is suffering. Cancer treatments as a child can cause fertility issues affecting the ability to produce a baby in future

The side effects of cancer treatment such as infertility are called late effects. It is always a better option to speak to your child’s doctor about the severity of the case, the type of cancer treatment they have been advised, and if the recommended treatment can affect the reproductive health of a child. 

Cancer Treatments that can Affect Fertility of Children

There are different types of cancer treatments and some of them may have side effects on the child’s fertility health. 

Radiation Therapy- This treatment is performed with the use of high radiation energy to kill the cancer cells in the affected area. The effect can damage the testes and ovaries and may lead to complications during the time of conception in future. 

The effect of radiation therapy on the reproductive organs is higher if done near the abdomen, pelvis area, scrotum, spine and whole body. 

In male children, if the radiation therapy is done near the testicles, as a result, it can damage the production of sperm and hormone. Whereas, in female children, the radiation used to treat cancer can affect the hormone and eggs. Radiation therapy can also result in ovulation disorders in girls like irregular periods, delay in puberty, production of eggs or mensuration may stop. At times, radiation given during the cancer treatment can also affect the uterus of the girl and could increase the risk of premature birth and miscarriages. The effect can be temporary and can be managed by the medicines and treatment recommended by your child’s doctor. 

Chemotherapy- This is one of the commonly advised treatments recommended to treat cancer. The presence of alkylating agents in chemotherapy can cause fertility issues in children. The following are a few drugs used during chemotherapy that can affect reproductive health- 

 

  • Ifosfamide (Ifex)
  • Carboplatin
  • Busulfan
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Cisplatin
  • Carmustine
  • Procarbazine (Matulane)
  • Melphalan (Alkeran)

There are several drugs that can also result in short-term effects leading to complications in the mensuration cycle. In some cases, the doses of alkylating agents used in higher amounts can cause permanent damage to a child’s reproductive health. To combat that doctors typically prefer alkylating agents with lesser dosages to reduce the risk of permanent damage. It is always advisable to speak to your doctor to understand the potential complications of the advised cancer treatment. 

Surgical Procedure- In some cases, the cancer is detected in the specific reproductive organ of a child. To deal with such situations, when the cancer is not treatable, the doctor typically suggests the removal of the affected part of the organ through a surgical procedure. Such surgeries can affect fertility causing difficulty in future. 

Cancer can be survivable but its treatment may result in late effects and one of them is fertility. To think through and choose the best for your child, it is better to have a thorough discussion with your child’s doctor for better understanding. If infertility is a potential risk of cancer treatments, then it is always a smart choice to know important options regarding fertility issues for the future. These situations can be hard but it’s necessary that your child should be aware of a few treatments so that they won’t get scared in future and can have a better decision to make. Young children can get scared of cancer treatments after discovering its side effects as sexuality and reproduction plays a vital role in developing their identity. 

Bottom Line

Cancer treatment can be complex when it comes to children. However, it is the best choice to speak to your children feel about the situation and involve them in decisions when necessary as it’s about their future. They will feel aware and less scared when it comes to going for any recommended treatment.  The above-mentioned article has explained the different procedures advised to treat cancer in children and how they affect their fertility health. If you are facing similar issues, contact us to speak to our fertility experts who can advise you in making an informed decision about your child’s reproductive health. 

Written by:
Dr Shreya Gupta

Dr Shreya Gupta

Dr Shreya Gupta is an experienced OBGYN in Lucknow with close to 10 years of clinical experience. Her friendly patient oriented approach and thorough knowledge in reproductive medicine makes her a stellar addition in our growing fertility team. She completed her MBBS from GSVM Medical College, Kanpur and her MD (Obstetrics & Gynaecology) from KGMC Lucknow. Thereafter she completed her DNB (Obstetrics & Gynaecology) and FNB (Reproductive Medicine) from Ruby Hall Clinic, Pune.   

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