Fathering a Child After Testicular Cancer
Most Succeed, but Treatment Type May Affect How Long It Takes
WebMD News Archive
Most men who try to father a child after testicular cancer treatment
eventually succeed, new research shows.
More intensive chemotherapy treatments may lengthen the process, Norwegian
researchers report in the Journal of the National Cancer
Many testicular cancer survivors fathered children without using sperm they
had banked before cancer treatment.
However, "all patients with testicular cancer who wish to maintain
fertility (and who do not require emergent treatment) should be counseled and
offered the option of sperm banking," states an editorial in the
About Testicular Cancer
The cure rate for early-stage testicular cancer "approaches 100%,"
writes editorialist Scott Saxman, MD, FACP, of the National Cancer
Testicular cancer is usually diagnosed in young men. About 8,000 new cases
are expected this year. Around 185,000 living U.S. men have a history of
testicular cancer, Saxman notes.
Many of those men want to have families, he adds.
Latest Fatherhood Study
The new study was done in Norway. Researchers tracked fatherhood in more
than 1,800 testicular cancer survivors.
The men completed surveys about their marital status and family plans. They
were followed for 11 years, on average.
A total of 554 men said they tried to father a child after their cancer
treatment. More than two-thirds (68%) succeeded at becoming biological
Most did so without medical assistance. However, 12 men used banked
Many men had fathered children before testicular cancer (90% of those who
Treatment Type Mattered
The men had gotten different types of treatment after initial orchiectomy
(removal of testis): low- or high-dose chemotherapy, additional surgery of
lymph nodes, radiation therapy, or medical surveillance.
It took 6.6 years, on average, for the men to become biological fathers
after cancer treatment.
The results varied by treatment type. The best odds and shortest time frames
were seen in men who hadn't gotten high-dose chemo.
Some men became fathers through adoption or when their wives or girlfriends
became pregnant through sperm donation and reproductive technology.
The study didn't track fertility problems in the men's wives or
Then and Now
The results might not directly apply to today's patients.
The men had been treated in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Treatments have
changed since then, Saxman notes.
"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 writes.
"However, this will be a moving target as treatment approaches continue
to change and improve," Saxman continues.
Saxman didn't work on the Norwegian study. The researchers included Marianne
Brydoy, MD. She works in Bergen, Norway, in Haukeland University Hospital's
oncology and medical physics department.