"Our research has made it possible for doctors to predict when a young woman who has been successfully treated for cancer will develop ovarian failure," said Hamish Wallace, M.D., lead author of the study and Senior Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh and a children's cancer specialist at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh, Scotland.

With the help of modern three-dimensional radiation therapy planning, clinicians are able to determine how much radiation the ovaries are exposed to and using the method they developed, the doctors would be able to determine a window of roughly 7.6 years for when a woman could expect to become infertile. The exact window of opportunity will vary from patient to patient.

"This will allow doctors to treat them with hormone replacement therapy and prevent osteoporosis and other disabling symptoms of the menopause. This knowledge will also guide patients and doctors to their future window of opportunity to have a baby. For those young women who are at risk of a very early menopause, it is now possible to counsel them of the options currently available to preserve their fertility before their treatment starts," Wallace continued.

"This information can be used either to vary the treatment - so that less radiation is received by the ovary - or possibly commence freezing of ovarian tissue, which is a new technique that potentially enables fertility after serious damage to the ovaries," said Tom W. Kelsey, B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D., co-author of the study and a computer scientist at University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

MEDICA.de; Source: American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology