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Female Reproductive System Problems in Childhood Cancer Survivors

Some female childhood cancer survivors may have problems with their reproductive health — menstrual periods, pregnancy, and childbearing — because of certain treatments they received.

The effect, if any, depends on the:

  • Tissues and organs involved in the cancer
  • Type, dosage, and combination of treatments
  • Age at the time of therapy

Treatments are available for many conditions that affect the reproductive system.

This illustration shows a teen with her uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, cervix, and vagina labeled. To the right of the main image, the endocrine system organs are also shown against the silhouette of the young woman’s body: pineal gland, hypothalamus, pituitary gland, thyroid and parathyroid, thymus, adrenal gland, and pancreas.

The organs of the female reproductive system work together so a woman can get pregnant, carry a developing human until time for delivery, and give birth.

Cancer Treatments That Can Affect Female Health

Other Factors that May Increase the Risk of Female Health Problems

Age

In general, females who are adolescents and young adults at the time of treatment are at higher risk for problems than younger girls.

Problems That May Occur

What Survivors Can Do

Know Your Risks and Monitor Your Health

Survivors should have annual physical examinations that include:

  • Checking of the progress of puberty
  • Asking about menstrual cycle and pregnancy history
  • Discussing sexual function
  • Having blood tests for FSH, LH and estradiol.

If the health care provider sees problems in these areas, he or she may refer the survivor to an endocrinologist or other specialists.

Treatments are available for many conditions that affect hormones and fertility.

For women with ovarian failure, a bone density test to check for thinning of the bones may also be recommended.

For more information, read the Children’s Oncology Group’s Female Health Issues after Cancer Treatment.


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Reviewed: June 2020