Awardee: Lin Yu
Graduate Program: MSc
Institution: University of Alberta
Supervisor(s): Yan Yuan
ARCC Program Area(s): Health Systems, Services, and Policy
Thanks to the advancement in cancer treatments, most children diagnosed with cancer are long-term survivors. However, two-thirds of childhood cancer survivors are likely to develop a chronic disease later in life due to their cancer treatments, e.g. chemotherapy and radiation therapy. A typical reproductive problem in female cancer survivors is early menopause, defined as menopause occurring before age 40. Approximately 11% of female survivors of childhood cancer experience early menopause, far more frequent than general population (about 1%). Women experiencing early menopause are likely to have a decreased quality of life and face physical and mental health problems.
A primary concern of women experiencing early menopause is that their chance of having biological children is significantly reduced. Some fertility preservation options are available before or shortly after cancer treatment. However, these procedures are invasive to girls and expensive. It is difficult to evaluate the need for fertility preservation without knowing the risk of early menopause. We are to develop a tool to predict an individual’s risk of developing early menopause after cancer treatment by a certain age.
This tool could provide a risk estimate to the doctors and their patients and help with the discussion regarding fertility preservation. The low-risk patients could avoid undergoing unnecessary invasive procedures, while high-risk patients can consider preserving their reproductive function. Ultimately, the tool benefits the quality of life and wellbeing of childhood cancer survivors.