STUDY QUESTION How is semen quality affected by treatment in survivors of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL)? SUMMARY ANSWER Before cancer treatment, most NHL subjects were normozoospermic and, while standard first-line treatments seemed compatible with post-treatment recovery after 18 months, salvage therapy followed by haematopoietic stem cell transplant caused permanent damage to spermatogenesis in many cases, with 66% azoospermic subjects in the long term. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY Testicular function has been widely investigated in relation to the most common malignancies in men of reproductive age, such as testicular cancer and Hodgkin lymphoma, but NHL has been somewhat under-investigated. The available reports generally show a post-treatment worsening of semen parameters in NHL survivors, but they involved small caseloads or a subgroup of broader caseloads, and their results are not comparable. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION We conducted a retrospective analysis of 222 subjects who attended our University Hospital Sperm Bank between 2002 and 2017 for sperm cryopreservation after a diagnosis of NHL. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS The study included 222 patients with NHL who underwent sperm cryopreservation before any antineoplastic treatment. Subjects with any comorbidity and/or other conditions interfering with sperm parameters were excluded. All patients underwent a careful medical history and physical examination at the time of sperm cryopreservation (T0) and had at least one follow-up visit at 6 (T6), 12 (T12), 18 (T18) and/or 24 months (T24) or more than 24 months (T > 24), with a median follow-up of 47.5 months (range 28–140 months). Fertility information was collected through the administration of a questionnaire. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE Pre-treatment, more than 80% of NHL patients were normozoospermic and in 15.9% of cases had already fathered a child. Aggressive lymphomas were associated with worse baseline semen volume and total sperm number compared to indolent subtypes (P < 0.05). Post-treatment analyses showed that standard first-line treatments alone had a more favourable outcome than intensified regimens for semen parameters, with total sperm number returning to near-baseline values at 18 months (T0: 195.0 ± 189.8 versus T18: 113.4 ± 103.1, P = 0.278), and a 7.7% prevalence of azoospermia at 2 years. In this subgroup receiving standard first-line treatments, radiotherapy of the pelvis versus other ‘high’ sites (mediastinum, latero-cervical and axillary lymph nodes, etc.) was associated with an increased risk of developing post-treatment azoospermia (odds ratio 4.29, 95% CI 1.81–10.14; P = 0.001). Two-thirds of subjects who had relapsed or had disease progression after first-line treatment and then underwent salvage treatment ± haematopoietic stem cell transplant became azoospermic. Fertility data were available for 176 patients: 15.9% already had at least one child prior to the NHL diagnosis and 12.5% (22 patients) desired children after treatment. Fourteen patients achieved fatherhood: 12 through natural conception and two following ART. LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION The main limitations of the study are the lack of data on blood hormones for evaluation of testicular function as a whole and the non-compliance of several patients in attending follow-up visits at all time points, resulting in a reduced sample size for the treatment subgroup analyses. Furthermore, despite a good fertility questionnaire response rate (>80%), the low number of NHL survivors actively seeking fatherhood limits the generalization of results. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS The increased survival of NHL patients of reproductive age makes it essential to focus on the testicular toxicity of the treatment. Sperm cryopreservation must be suggested before any treatment. Two years after first-line treatments, sperm number showed signs of recovery: this finding is of the utmost importance for oncofertility counselling, as it indicates that only a standard first-line chemotherapy in many patients may be compatible with at least a partial spermatogenesis recovery in the long term. Nonetheless, it is expected that up to 30% of subjects will require treatment intensification, which could result in permanent testicular damage; in such cases the use of banked semen might represent the patient’s best chance for future fertility. STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S) This work was supported by a grant from the Italian Ministry of Education and Research (MIUR-PRIN 2015-2015XSNA83-002) and the ‘Sapienza’ University of Rome, Faculty of Medicine. The authors report no conflicts of interest. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER N/A.

Semen quality in non-Hodgkin lymphoma survivors: a monocentric retrospective study / Pallotti, Francesco; Pelloni, Marianna; Faja, Fabiana; Di Chiano, Silvia; Di Rocco, Alice; Lenzi, Andrea; Lombardo, Francesco; Paoli, Donatella. - In: HUMAN REPRODUCTION. - ISSN 0268-1161. - 36:1(2021), pp. 16-25. [10.1093/humrep/deaa266]

Semen quality in non-Hodgkin lymphoma survivors: a monocentric retrospective study

Pallotti, Francesco
Primo
;
Pelloni, Marianna
Secondo
;
Faja, Fabiana;Di Chiano, Silvia;Di Rocco, Alice;Lenzi, Andrea;Lombardo, Francesco
Penultimo
;
Paoli, Donatella
Ultimo
2021

Abstract

STUDY QUESTION How is semen quality affected by treatment in survivors of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL)? SUMMARY ANSWER Before cancer treatment, most NHL subjects were normozoospermic and, while standard first-line treatments seemed compatible with post-treatment recovery after 18 months, salvage therapy followed by haematopoietic stem cell transplant caused permanent damage to spermatogenesis in many cases, with 66% azoospermic subjects in the long term. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY Testicular function has been widely investigated in relation to the most common malignancies in men of reproductive age, such as testicular cancer and Hodgkin lymphoma, but NHL has been somewhat under-investigated. The available reports generally show a post-treatment worsening of semen parameters in NHL survivors, but they involved small caseloads or a subgroup of broader caseloads, and their results are not comparable. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION We conducted a retrospective analysis of 222 subjects who attended our University Hospital Sperm Bank between 2002 and 2017 for sperm cryopreservation after a diagnosis of NHL. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS The study included 222 patients with NHL who underwent sperm cryopreservation before any antineoplastic treatment. Subjects with any comorbidity and/or other conditions interfering with sperm parameters were excluded. All patients underwent a careful medical history and physical examination at the time of sperm cryopreservation (T0) and had at least one follow-up visit at 6 (T6), 12 (T12), 18 (T18) and/or 24 months (T24) or more than 24 months (T > 24), with a median follow-up of 47.5 months (range 28–140 months). Fertility information was collected through the administration of a questionnaire. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE Pre-treatment, more than 80% of NHL patients were normozoospermic and in 15.9% of cases had already fathered a child. Aggressive lymphomas were associated with worse baseline semen volume and total sperm number compared to indolent subtypes (P < 0.05). Post-treatment analyses showed that standard first-line treatments alone had a more favourable outcome than intensified regimens for semen parameters, with total sperm number returning to near-baseline values at 18 months (T0: 195.0 ± 189.8 versus T18: 113.4 ± 103.1, P = 0.278), and a 7.7% prevalence of azoospermia at 2 years. In this subgroup receiving standard first-line treatments, radiotherapy of the pelvis versus other ‘high’ sites (mediastinum, latero-cervical and axillary lymph nodes, etc.) was associated with an increased risk of developing post-treatment azoospermia (odds ratio 4.29, 95% CI 1.81–10.14; P = 0.001). Two-thirds of subjects who had relapsed or had disease progression after first-line treatment and then underwent salvage treatment ± haematopoietic stem cell transplant became azoospermic. Fertility data were available for 176 patients: 15.9% already had at least one child prior to the NHL diagnosis and 12.5% (22 patients) desired children after treatment. Fourteen patients achieved fatherhood: 12 through natural conception and two following ART. LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION The main limitations of the study are the lack of data on blood hormones for evaluation of testicular function as a whole and the non-compliance of several patients in attending follow-up visits at all time points, resulting in a reduced sample size for the treatment subgroup analyses. Furthermore, despite a good fertility questionnaire response rate (>80%), the low number of NHL survivors actively seeking fatherhood limits the generalization of results. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS The increased survival of NHL patients of reproductive age makes it essential to focus on the testicular toxicity of the treatment. Sperm cryopreservation must be suggested before any treatment. Two years after first-line treatments, sperm number showed signs of recovery: this finding is of the utmost importance for oncofertility counselling, as it indicates that only a standard first-line chemotherapy in many patients may be compatible with at least a partial spermatogenesis recovery in the long term. Nonetheless, it is expected that up to 30% of subjects will require treatment intensification, which could result in permanent testicular damage; in such cases the use of banked semen might represent the patient’s best chance for future fertility. STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S) This work was supported by a grant from the Italian Ministry of Education and Research (MIUR-PRIN 2015-2015XSNA83-002) and the ‘Sapienza’ University of Rome, Faculty of Medicine. The authors report no conflicts of interest. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER N/A.
2021
R-CHOP; azoospermia; chemotherapy; fertility; haematopoietic stem cell transplant; non-Hodgkin lymphoma; sperm parameters
01 Pubblicazione su rivista::01a Articolo in rivista
Semen quality in non-Hodgkin lymphoma survivors: a monocentric retrospective study / Pallotti, Francesco; Pelloni, Marianna; Faja, Fabiana; Di Chiano, Silvia; Di Rocco, Alice; Lenzi, Andrea; Lombardo, Francesco; Paoli, Donatella. - In: HUMAN REPRODUCTION. - ISSN 0268-1161. - 36:1(2021), pp. 16-25. [10.1093/humrep/deaa266]
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