Gonadal function in boys with newly diagnosed cancer before the start of treatment

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Abstract

STUDY QUESTION

Are Inhibin B and testosterone levels reduced in boys with newly diagnosed cancer prior to therapy?

SUMMARY ANSWER

Pretreatment serum levels of Inhibin B and testosterone are significantly reduced in boys with newly diagnosed cancer, compared to reference values.

WHAT IS ALREADY KNOWN

Disease-related gonadal impairment has been demonstrated in girls and young women diagnosed with cancer, prior to therapy.

STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION

We conducted a descriptive study in boys newly diagnosed with cancer between January 2006 and February 2014.

PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS

Serum Inhibin B and testosterone levels were determined in 224 boys, up to the age of 18 years, with newly diagnosed cancer prior to therapy. Hormone levels were compared with age-matched reference values. The cohort consisted of patients with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), Hodgkin lymphoma (HL), non-Hodgkin lym-phoma (NHL), nephroblastoma, neuroblastoma and sarcoma.

MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE

This study demonstrates reduced serum levels of Inhibin B in boys with newly diagnosed cancer, compared to reference values (standard deviation score (SDS) −0.9, P < 0.001). Median Inhibin B level in patients was 103.5 ng/l (range 20–422). Of all patients, 78.6% showed Inhibin B levels below the 50th percentile, and 58.5% had Inhibin B levels below the 25th percentile. Serum testosterone levels were significantly lower than the reference range population (SDS −1.2, P < 0.001). Median testosterone level in pubertal patients was 7.3 nmol/l (range 0.1–23.6). No correlation with clinical signs of general illness and hormone levels were observed.

LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION

In this study, reproductive hormone levels were compared with age-matched reference values. Future studies may compare reproductive hormone levels with case controls.

WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS

Future longitudinal studies are necessary to determine whether pretreatment impaired gonadal function at the time of cancer diagnosis is an important determinant of ultimate recovery of spermatogenesis after treatment and later on in adulthood.

STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S)

W.v.D. was supported by the Pediatric Oncology Center Society for Research (KOCR), Rotterdam, The Netherlands. A.-L.L.F.v.d.K. was supported by EU FP7 PanCare LIFE study. The authors have no conflicts of interest.

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