The findings, set out in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, are based on the experience of more than 2,000 young women in England and Wales treated for the cancer over a period of more than 40 years.
Previous research has suggested that women with Hodgkin lymphoma who receive certain types of chemotherapy or radiotherapy are at increased risk of going through the menopause early – but there was insufficient information to provide patients with detailed advice.
But the new study, led by scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, provides precise estimates of risk for women depending on which treatment types and doses they received and at what age - allowing doctors to give them detailed advice about their risks of future infertility.
The research was largely funded by Breakthrough Breast Cancer and involved researchers from across the UK at more than 50 universities and hospitals. The research team followed-up 2,127 women who had been treated for Hodgkin lymphoma in England and Wales between 1960 and 2004, and who had been aged under 36 at the time. All had received treatment with chest radiotherapy, sometimes alongside other treatments.
Some 605 of the women in the study underwent non-surgical menopause before the age of 40. This was a large enough number for the researchers to estimate accurate risks of menopause at different ages, depending on the mixture and doses of treatments they received and the age they received them.