Preventing ovarian failure associated with chemotherapy

Wanyuan Cui, Catharyn Stern, Martha Hickey, Fiona Goldblatt, Antoinette Anazodo, William S Stevenson and Kelly-Anne Phillips
Med J Aust 2018; 209 (9): . || doi: 10.5694/mja18.00190
Published online: 5 November 2018



  • Alkylating chemotherapy is often used to treat pre-menopausal women for various malignancies and autoimmune diseases. Chemotherapy-associated ovarian failure is a potential consequence of this treatment which can cause infertility, and increases the risk of other long term adverse health sequelae.
  • Randomised trials, predominantly of women undergoing alkylating chemotherapy for breast cancer, have shown evidence for the efficacy of gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists (GnRHa) in preventing chemotherapy-associated ovarian failure.
  • The European St Gallen and United States National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines recommend the use of concurrent GnRHa to reduce the risk of ovarian failure for pre-menopausal women undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer.
  • The GnRHa goserelin, a monthly 3.6 mg depot subcutaneous injection, has recently been listed on the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to reduce risk of ovarian failure for pre-menopausal women receiving alkylating therapies for malignancy or autoimmune disease.
  • The first dose of goserelin should ideally be administered at least 1 week before commencement of alkylating treatment and continued 4-weekly during chemotherapy.
  • Concurrent goserelin use should now be considered for all pre-menopausal women due to commence alkylating chemotherapy (except those with incurable cancer), regardless of their childbearing status, in an effort to preserve their ovarian function. For women who have not completed childbearing, consideration of other fertility preservation options, such as cryopreservation of embryos or oocytes, is also important.


  • Wanyuan Cui1
  • Catharyn Stern2,3
  • Martha Hickey3
  • Fiona Goldblatt4
  • Antoinette Anazodo5,6
  • William S Stevenson7,8
  • Kelly-Anne Phillips1,2

  • 1 Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2 University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC
  • 3 Royal Women's Hospital, Melbourne, VIC
  • 4 Flinders Medical Centre and Flinders University, Adelaide, SA
  • 5 Kids Cancer Centre, Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick, Sydney, NSW
  • 6 Nelune Comprehensive Cancer Centre, Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney, NSW
  • 7 Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, NSW
  • 8 Northern Clinical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW



Kelly-Anne Phillips is a National Breast Cancer Foundation Practitioner Fellow. Martha Hickey is a National Health and Medical Research Council Practitioner Fellow. Antoinette Anazodo’s research is supported by Kids Cancer Alliance, Cancer Institute NSW Translational Cancer Research Centre (15/TRC/1-04), and CanTeen funding from the federal Department of Health.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


remove_circle_outline Delete Author
add_circle_outline Add Author

Do you have any competing interests to declare? *

I/we agree to assign copyright to the Medical Journal of Australia and agree to the Conditions of publication *
I/we agree to the Terms of use of the Medical Journal of Australia *
Email me when people comment on this article

Online responses are no longer available. Please refer to our instructions for authors page for more information.