Can radiation to the upper mantle affect fertility?

Last Modified: March 9, 2003

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Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease when I was 24. I am now 27 and have been in remission for 2 years. I was stage 1B and had surgery, then radiation to the upper mantle. I've read as much as possible about what the future may have in store for me, but I'm wondering if there has been any recent research reported about the effects of radiation on future fertility.  

Answer

Anna Meadows, MD, Pediatric Oncologist at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and Director of the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania's Survivorship Research Program, responds:

Radiation can affect fertility, but only if the ovaries (or testes) are in the area that has been irradiated. Radiation to the upper part of the body would not normally affect fertility, unless the thyroid hormone replacement is needed. Radiation can affect those tissues in the chest that were in the field. You should talk to your doctor about the risks for your future health.