Study: Chemo for lung cancer may cause early menopause

Aug. 29 (UPI) — Chemotherapy to treat lung cancer may cause acute amenorrhea and lead to early menopause in women, according to a study.

The study, which was published Wednesday in the journal Menopause, is one of the first to examine amenorrhea rates in women younger than 50.

Between 1975 and 2015, lung cancer increased 94 percent in women and surpassed breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer death among women in the United States.

Women are generally diagnosed with lung cancer at a younger age than men, and about 5,000 premenopausal females receive a diagnosis each year. Between 40 percent and 80 percent of women have premature menopause, according to previous research, but early menopause rates after lung cancer treatments are understudied, the researchers said.

“Although more definitive research is needed, premenopausal women who need chemotherapy for lung cancer appear to have a similar risk of amenorrhea, early menopause, and loss of fertility as premenopausal women receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer and lymphoma,” Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, executive director of NAMS, said in a press release.

Between 1999 and 2016, the Mayo Clinic Epidemiology and Genetics of Lung Cancer Research Program surveyed 182 women, with an average age of 43, about their menstrual status when they received a lung cancer diagnosis, and then each year after. Types of lung cancer treatments and frequencies of self-reported menopause were determined.

Among 85 women who received chemotherapy, 64 percent self-reported that they were menopausal within a year of diagnosis. Fifteen percent of the 94 patients who didn’t receive chemo within a year of diagnosis experienced self-reported menopause

“I agree that premenopausal patients with lung cancer need to be educated about the risk for chemotherapy-related amenorrhea, menopause issues — hot flashes, vaginal dryness and bone loss –and the potential loss of fertility before chemotherapy is initiated,” Pinkerton said.

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