Most men who try to father a child after testicular cancer treatment eventually succeed, new research shows.
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 journal.
About Testicular Cancer
The cure rate for early-stage testicular cancer "approaches 100%," writes editorialist Scott Saxman, MD, FACP, of the National Cancer Institute.
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 fathers.
Most did so without medical assistance. However, 12 men used banked sperm.
Many men had fathered children before testicular cancer (90% of those who had tried).
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.
The study didn't track fertility problems in the men's wives or girlfriends.
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.