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3 November 2005
More Options For Testicular Cancer Survivors To Father Children
by George Atkinson

A new study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, provides some reassuring news for men who may be concerned that testicular cancer will impact their ability to father children.

Testicular cancer is the most common cancer among men aged between 20 and 40, but encouragingly, it has a high cure rate of around 95 percent. A common concern for many sufferers is that the disease strikes at a time when many of them are considering starting a family and that the treatment will impact their fertility. To date, there has been little reliable data on post-treatment fertility available to guide these men.

Researcher Marianne Brydøy, of Haukeland University Hospital in Norway, decided to investigate post-treatment fertility among testicular cancer survivors by studying nearly 2,000 men who had been treated for testicular cancer between 1980 and 1994.

She found that 71 percent of those attempting to father a child - without the use of frozen preserved semen - were successful within 15 years of the cancer treatment. But the rate of success varied by the type of treatment, ranging from just 48 percent among men treated with higher doses of chemotherapy, to 92 percent among men who had a testicle removed. About 22 percent of couples who attempted post-treatment conception reported that they needed some form of assisted reproduction.

Brydøy said that sperm cryopreservation (freezing) was still a sensible precaution to take. "With recent advances in assisted fertility techniques, more testicular cancer survivors may be helped to father children. However, because infertility cannot be predicted on an individual basis, it is important to continue the policy of offering sperm preservation prior to treatment," she advised.

Scott Saxman, of the National Cancer Institute, commenting on the study, said it will help physicians to provide answers to testicular cancer patients who are concerned about their ability to father children. "Clearly the impact of therapy on fertility, as well as other long-term complications, for men with testicular cancer needs to be better categorized and understood," he said.

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