Chemotherapy-induced damage to ovary: mechanisms and clinical impact

Future Oncol. 2016 Oct;12(20):2333-44. doi: 10.2217/fon-2016-0176. Epub 2016 Jul 12.


Cancer is a major public health problem around the world. Currently, about 5% of women diagnosed with cancer are of reproductive age. These young survivors may face compromised fertility. The effects of chemotherapeutic agents on ovarian reserve and its clinical consequences are generally inferred from a variety of surrogate markers of ovarian reserve, all aiming to provide prognostic information on fertility or the likelihood of success of infertility treatment. Until recently, the mechanisms that are responsible for chemotherapy-induced ovarian damage were not fully elucidated. The understanding of these mechanisms may lead to targeted treatments to preserve fertility. In this manuscript, we will review the current knowledge on the mechanism of ovarian damage and clinical impact of chemotherapy agents on fertility.

Keywords: anti-Mullerian hormone; antral follicle count; chemotherapy; fertility preservation; follicle-stimulating hormone; ovarian aging; ovarian damage; ovarian reserve.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Biomarkers
  • Female
  • Fertility
  • Fertility Preservation
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / diagnosis
  • Infertility, Female / etiology
  • Infertility, Female / therapy
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Ovarian Follicle / drug effects
  • Ovarian Follicle / metabolism
  • Ovarian Follicle / pathology
  • Ovarian Reserve / drug effects*
  • Ovary / drug effects*
  • Ovary / pathology
  • Ovary / physiopathology
  • Risk


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biomarkers