Gonadal dysfunction in patients treated for metastatic germ-cell tumors
Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal
The effects of chemotherapy on endocrine function were assessed in 22 previously treated patients with germ-cell tumors and compared with the endocrine function of six previously untreated patients. Baseline and stimulated serum levels of luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), testosterone, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), prolactin, and thyroxine (T4) were obtained. Baseline LH levels were elevated in both groups of patients, whereas basal FSH levels were significantly elevated only in treated patients (P less than .001). Following gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), levels of LH (P = .051) and FSH (P = .003) were greater in treated patients than in untreated control patients. No abnormalities of thyroid function or prolactin responsiveness were observed. Patients younger than 25 years of age at the time of treatment had lower serum levels of LH and FSH following chemotherapy than patients older than 25. Evidence for partial recovery of gonadal function was present with patients treated more than 18 months before study having lower levels of LH and FSH than those patients studied less than 18 months after treatment. These data demonstrate that frequent gonadal dysfunction exists in untreated patients with germ-cell tumors and that chemotherapy induces additional injury to both Leydig cells and the germinal epithelium. Further studies with long-term follow-up are necessary to define the pattern of gonadal recovery and to assess the potential sequelae of endogenous gonadotropin hypersecretion.