A predictive model of the effect of therapeutic radiation on the human ovary

Tom Kelsey*, C-H Hua, A Wyatt, D Indelicato, W H B Wallace

*Corresponding author for this work

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Radiation to the female pelvis as part of treatment for cancer predisposes young women to develop Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI). As the human female is born with their full complement of non-growing follicles which decline in an exponential fashion until the menopause, the age at which POI occurs is dependent on the age of the patient at treatment and the dose received by the ovary. A model that predicts the age at which POI occurs for a known dose at a known age will aid counselling patients on their fertility risk. Patients deemed to be at high risk of POI may be considered to be good candidates for established fertility preservation techniques. An updated and externally validated model of the age-related decline in human ovarian reserve was combined with the best available estimate of the median lethal dose LD for the human ovary. Using known age at diagnosis and posited radiotherapy treatment plan to estimate the dose to the least-affected ovary, we use an age-related model of the decline in ovarian reserve to generate a personalized age prediction of premature ovarian insufficiency. Our algorithm is available as an online calculator which graphs model outputs to inform discussions around survivor fertility. We report four example cases across different ages and diagnoses, each with two carefully designed photon and proton treatment plans. The treatment options are compared in terms of remaining fertile lifespan for the survivor. International oncology guidelines now mandate the consideration of later fertility when reviewing treatment options for children diagnosed with cancer. Our calculator (https://sites.cs.st-andrews.ac.uk/radiosensitivity), and the underlying algorithm and models, allow detailed predictions of the impact of various radiotherapy plans on fertility. These patient-specific data enhance pre-treatment discussions around post-treatment fertility and fertility preservation.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0277052
Number of pages15
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2022


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