According to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, men treated for unilateral testicular cancer between 1980 and 1994 were often able to father children after treatment. However, the specific type of treatment influenced the probability of success.
Cancer of the testicles is the most common cancer in men 15 to 34 years old. The testicles are part of the male reproductive system and are located inside the scrotum (a loose sac of skin that lies directly under the penis). Sperm and male hormones are produced in the testicles.
Testicular cancers were among the first types of cancers to be cured by radiation or chemotherapy. Currently, most patients with testicular cancer are cured. Given the young age at which testicular cancer occurs and the high cure rate, long-term survivorship issues, such as the ability to have children, are important concerns for men who have had the disease.
To evaluate the frequency of paternity in men treated for testicular cancer, researchers in Norway assessed 1433 men who had been treated for unilateral testicular cancer between 1980 and 1994. Eight hundred and twenty-seven men had at least one child at the time of diagnosis. Conception after treatment was attempted by 554 men. The probability of success within a 15-year period (without the use of previously frozen semen) was 71%. The rate varied from 48% among men treated with orchiectomy and high-dose chemotherapy to 92% among men treated with orchiectomy and surveillance.
The researchers conclude, “Although the overall paternity rate was high, the ability to conceive and the time to conception reflected the intensity of the treatment.”
An accompanying editorial notes that some of these results may no longer be applicable, due to changes and improvements in the treatment of testicular cancer since the early 1990s. Though many of these changes are likely to result in even higher fertility rates, the author of the editorial reminds, “All patients with testicular cancer who wish to maintain fertility…should be counseled and offered the option of sperm banking.”
Reference: Brydøy M, Fosså SD, Klepp O et al. Paternity Following Treatment for Testicular Cancer. Journal of the National Cancer Institute . 2005;97:1580-1588.
Accompanying Editorial: Saxman S. Doctor….Will I Still Be Able To Have Children? Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2005;97:1557-1559.