Background: Reproductive function following cancer treatment is of increasing importance with improving survival rates. We therefore assessed the markers of the ovarian reserve in premenopausal women, to investigate and compare the effects of chemotherapy and long-term gonadotrophin withdrawal on ovarian function. Methods: Fifty premenopausal (age range 28-52 years) women with early breast cancer were recruited. Serum hormone and ovarian ultrasound measurements were taken before treatment and at intervals up to 1 year during chemotherapy or gonadotrophin suppressive therapy. Results: Pretreatment samples indicated a fall in anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) concentration with age before changes in other hormone concentrations. AMH concentration showed a rapid and marked fall during chemotherapy, with undetectable concentrations in many women (P < 0.0001). Inhibin B concentration showed a lesser fall (P < 0.0001), whereas estradiol (E2) concentrations were maintained. Both antral follicle count (AFC) and ovarian volume fell (P < 0.0001 and P < 0.05 respectively). Regimens containing taxanes in addition to cyclophosphamide showed increased gonadotoxicity. Gonadotrophin suppression resulted in expected falls in E2 (P < 0.05) and inhibin B (P < 0.001) levels, but also resulted in a delayed fall in AMH level after 6 months (P < 0.0001). Conclusions: These data confirm the value of AMH concentration as an early indicator of ovarian ageing including assessment of chemotherapy-induced ovarian follicle loss. FSH and AMH concentration measurements may be useful for the comparison of ovarian toxicity of different chemotherapy regimens.

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Human Reproduction
Department of Internal Medicine

Anderson, R., Themmen, A., Al-Qahtani, A., Groome, N., & Cameron, D. (2006). The effects of chemotherapy and long-term gonadotrophin suppression on the ovarian reserve in premenopausal women with breast cancer. Human Reproduction, 21(10), 2583–2592. doi:10.1093/humrep/del201