MULTICENTER STUDY
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Fertility and pregnancy outcome after abdominal irradiation that included or excluded the pelvis in childhood tumor survivors.

PURPOSE: To evaluate fertility after abdominal and/or pelvic irradiation in long-term female survivors.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: Puberty and pregnancy outcome were analyzed in female survivors of childhood cancer (aged <18 years) treated with abdominal and/or pelvic radiotherapy (RT) at one of two French centers (Nancy and Lyon) between 1975 and 2004. Data were obtained from medical records and questionnaires sent to the women.

RESULTS: A total of 84 patients who had received abdominal and/or pelvic RT during childhood and were alive and aged more than 18 years at the time of the study made up the study population. Of the 57 female survivors treated with abdominal RT that excluded the pelvis, 52 (91%) progressed normally through puberty and 23 (40%) had at least one recorded pregnancy. Of the 27 patients treated with pelvic RT, only 10 (37%) progressed normally through puberty and 5 (19%) had at least one recorded pregnancy. Twenty-two women (seventeen of whom were treated with pelvic RT) had certain subfertility. A total of 50 births occurred in 28 women, with one baby dying at birth; one miscarriage also occurred. There was a high prevalence of prematurity and low birth weight but not of congenital malformations.

CONCLUSIONS: Fertility can be preserved in patients who undergo abdominal RT that excludes the pelvis, taking into account the other treatments (e.g., chemotherapy with alkylating agents) are taken into account. When RT includes the pelvis, fertility is frequently impaired and women can have difficulty conceiving. Nevertheless, pregnancies can occur in some of these women. The most important factor that endangers a successful pregnancy after RT is the total dose received by the ovaries and uterus. This radiation dose has to be systematically recorded to improve our ability to follow up patients.

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