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Assessment of male fertility in patients with Hodgkin's lymphoma treated in the German Hodgkin Study Group (GHSG) clinical trials.

BACKGROUND: Infertility is one of the most significant side-effects in long-term survivors of successfully treated Hodgkin's lymphoma (HL).

PATIENTS AND METHODS: The fertility status was assessed in male HL patients enrolled into trials of the German Hodgkin Study Group from 1988 to 2003.

RESULTS: In pre-treatment analysis (n = 202), 20% of patients had normozoospermia, 11% azoospermia and 69% had other dyspermia. In post-treatment analysis (n = 112), 64% of patients had azoospermia, 30% other dyspermia and 6% normozoospermia (P < 0.001). Azoospermia was observed in 90% of patients treated with chemotherapy alone, 67% of those treated with combined modality and 11% of those treated with radiotherapy alone (P < 0.001). Azoospermia was more frequent after 4x cyclophosphamide, vincristine, procarbazine, prednisone, doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine, dacarbazine (COPP/ABVD) (91%), 8x bleomycin, etoposide, doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, vincristine, procarbazine, prednisone (BEACOPP) baseline (93%) and 8x BEACOPP escalated (87%) compared with 2x COPP/ABVD (56%; P = 0.003). There was a statistically significant difference in post-treatment follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels between patients with azoospermia and those with preserved spermatogenesis (P = 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Depending on the treatment received, male HL patients are at high risk of infertility after treatment. FSH might be used as surrogate parameter for male fertility in future studies.

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