While female childhood cancer survivors are at an increased risk of infertility, there is still a good chance they will conceive.
Two thirds of the clinically infertile survivors are able to get pregnant, a rate similar to women experiencing infertility who had never gotten cancer, Medical Press reported.
A study surveyed more than 20,000 people who had been diagnosed with cancer when they were younger than 21.
Cancer treatments have been shown to cause early menopause and ovarian failure. Women who undergo these therapies are almost 50 percent less likely to get pregnant than their siblings.
The youngest group of study participants (24 and under) were three time less likely to get pregnant then their sisters, but the difference was less pronounced in the over 30 group.
Over the course of the study 455 of the participants got pregnant despite being clinically infertile.
Survivors and their siblings were equally as likely to seek medical attention for infertility, patients who had never been diagnosed with cancer were more likely to be prescribed drugs to treat the condition.
"We do not have data about why providers did not prescribe infertility drugs, but are concerned about a provider bias against treating cancer survivors for infertility," Dr. Sara Barton of Brigham and Women's Hospital who led the study said.
"Perhaps providers assessed the chance of success as poor and therefore decide not to attempt therapy, or perhaps survivors were less motivated to take drugs after previous extensive treatment. Alternatively, reproductive medicine providers might have been uncomfortable with perceived medical comorbidities,"she said.
Past studies have looked at the effect of cancer on menopause and ovarian health, but this study looked at cancer survivors who were actively trying to get pregnant.
"To our knowledge, ours is the first large study of female childhood cancer survivors to quantify the risk of infertility that is based on a clinical definition, and characterizes the use and success of infertility treatments in this setting. These data confirm a high risk for infertility and childlessness for female cancer survivors that have received high doses of alkylating agent chemotherapy or pelvic radiation," Barton said.