Determinants of ovarian function after response-adapted therapy in patients with advanced Hodgkin's lymphoma (RATHL): a secondary analysis of a randomised phase 3 trial

Richard A Anderson, Rachel Remedios, Amy A Kirkwood, Pip Patrick, Linsey Stevens, Laura Clifton-Hadley, Tom Roberts, Chris Hatton, Nagesh Kalakonda, Don W Milligan, Pam McKay, Clare Rowntree, Fiona M Scott, Peter W M Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Adverse effects on reproductive function are a key concern in young women treated with chemotherapy for advanced Hodgkin's lymphoma. We aimed to identify risk factors for the extent of ovarian damage in women with Hodgkin's lymphoma treated with different chemotherapy regimens to inform accurate advice on options for fertility preservation.

METHODS: We recruited female participants from the randomised phase 3 RATHL trial, aged 18-45 years, based on availability of participants at recruiting sites in the UK. The RATHL trial key inclusion criteria were histologically confirmed classic Hodgkin's lymphoma, stage IIB-IV or IIA with adverse features (bulky disease or more than two sites of involvement), no previous treatments, and a performance status of 0-3. As part of RATHL, participants were treated with two cycles of doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine, and dacarbazine (ABVD) or AVD followed by an interim PET-CT scan. Participants who had negative interim scans (PET score of 1 to 3 according to the Lugano classification) were randomly assigned (1:1) by use of minimisation, stratified by interim PET score and study centre, to continue ABVD or AVD for four more cycles. Participants with positive scans (PET score of 4 or 5) were escalated to treatment with bleomycin, etoposide, doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, vincristine, procarbazine, and prednisolone (BEACOPP-14 or escalated BEACOPP) for four cycles. For the protocol-driven prospective cohort substudy, ovarian function was assessed before treatment, during chemotherapy, and then annually for 3 years by use of serum antimüllerian hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone measurements. The RATHL study is registered with, number NCT00678327.

FINDINGS: Between Dec 13, 2010, and Dec 19, 2012, 67 eligible participants were recruited for this prospective cohort study; 57 had received ABVD or AVD (ABVD-AVD group) and ten BEACOPP-14 or escalated BEACOPP (BEACOPP group). Follow-up was fixed at 3 years. Antimüllerian hormone concentrations decreased during both chemotherapy regimens. At 1 year after chemotherapy, antimüllerian hormone concentrations recovered to a median of 10·5 pmol/L (IQR 4·3-17·3) in the ABVD-AVD group, but little recovery was seen after BEACOPP (median 0·11 pmol/L [0·07-0·20]). Age also affected the extent of ovarian function recovery, with antimüllerian hormone recovery in participants aged 35 years or older in the ABVD-AVD group to 37% (SD 10) of their before treatment concentrations, compared with full recovery to 127% (SD 12) in those younger than 35 years (p<0·0001). Follicle-stimulating hormone recovery to less than 25 IU/L occurred for 95% of women younger than 35 years in the ABVD-AVD group by 2 years and was also dependent on age (hazard ratio 0·49, 95% CI 0·37-0·65; p<0·0001).

INTERPRETATION: Reduced recovery of ovarian function observed in women older than 35 years treated with ABVD or AVD compared with younger women indicates that treatment could reduce their reproductive lifespan and supports discussion of fertility preservation before treatment. Women treated with BEACOPP should be informed of its potential high gonadotoxicity. These findings warrant further investigation in large, prospective studies with fertility and reproductive lifespan as outcomes.

FUNDING: Medical Research Foundation and Cancer Research UK.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1328-1337
Number of pages10
JournalThe Lancet Oncology
Issue number10
Early online date13 Sep 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018


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