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Chemotherapy alone vs. chemotherapy plus radiotherapy in female adolescent and young adults with Hodgkin’s lymphoma: reproductive health outcomes


Purpose — To examine the effects of Hodgkin’s lymphoma and its treatment on reproductive health in female adolescent and young adults (AYA).

Methods — We conducted a retrospective, population-based, matched-cohort study of female patients with Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosed at 15–39 years of age from 1995 to 2014 in Ontario, Canada. Three female individuals with no history of cancer (unexposed) were matched by birth year and census subdivision to each patient with cancer (exposed). In a subset of the cohort (2005 onwards), the Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients were further classified into two groups for analysis based on treatment exposure: (1) chemotherapy alone or (2) combined chemotherapy and radiation. Reproductive health outcomes were infertility, childbirth, and premature ovarian insufficiency (POI). Relative risks (RR) were calculated using modified Poisson regression adjusted for income quintile, immigration status, and parity.

Results — A total of 1443 exposed and 4329 unexposed individuals formed our cohort. Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients were at an increased risk of infertility (aRR 1.86; 95% CI 1.57 to 2.20) and POI (aRR 2.81; 95% CI 2.16 to 3.65). While the risk of infertility persisted in both treatment groups (chemotherapy alone, combined chemotherapy plus radiotherapy), the increased risk of POI was only statistically significant in the chemotherapy plus radiotherapy group. No differences in childbirth rates were observed, overall or by treatment exposure compared with unexposed individuals.

Conclusions — Female AYA survivors of Hodgkin’s lymphoma face an increased risk of infertility, independent of exposure to chemotherapy alone, or chemotherapy plus radiotherapy. The risk of POI is higher in those requiring radiotherapy vs. chemotherapy alone.

Implications for Cancer Survivors — These results emphasize the importance of pre-treatment fertility counseling and reproductive health surveillance for AYAs diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.



Luong S, Mockler C, Pudwell J, Li W, Dudebout J, Velez MP. J Cancer Surviv. 2023; May 6 [Epub ahead of print].

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