Fertility after testicular cancer

Last Modified: February 21, 2003


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
I am a 23-year-old man who has been diagnosed with testicular cancer. I know I should be grateful for an opportunity to survive but I am stuck on wondering whether or not I can have kids after treatment. I need surgery and chemo...can you help? 


David J Vaughn, MD, Medical Director of the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute and Associate Professor of Medicine, Hematology-Oncology at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

Fertility is an important issue in patients with testicular cancer. Some patients have lowered sperm counts related to the cancer itself, and some will experience fertility problems caused by the medical treatments for the testicular cancer. It is important patients discuss this issue with their oncologist.

About 30% of patients with testicular cancer (post-surgery) will have very low or no sperm as a result of the disease. If a person has adequate sperm counts prior to chemotherapy, at the immediate end of chemo all will have close to no sperm, but 80% will recover to pretreatment levels over 2-4 years. All patients should be offered the opportunity to sperm bank prior to chemotherapy or retroperitoneal lymph node dissection, which in some patients can result in dry ejaculation (unless chemotherapy needs to be emergently initiated and there is not time to sperm bank). Advances in reproductive technology have allowed men with post-chemotherapy non-obstructive azospermia (i.e., no sperm in semen but not because of obstruction) to undergo very complicated but successful extraction of sperm from the testicle, fertilization of the egg in a test tube, followed by implantation of the fertilized egg in a woman. However, this technology is not a substitute for sperm banking.


How to Find the Cancer Resources You Need - Brown Bag Web Chat
by OncoLink Editorial Team
June 15, 2011

7 Tips for Giving Smart on #givingtuesday
by Christina Bach, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C
November 25, 2015

Related News

No Adverse Effects Seen After Testis Biopsy in Boys

Nov 27, 2015

In experimental approach to preserving fertility, freezing testis tissue from young boys studied

Platinum Treatment for Testicular Cancer Ups Neurotoxicity

Dec 27, 2011

Highest long-term platinum levels associated with four- to five-fold increase in neurotoxicity

Embryo Cryopreservation Feasible for Women With Breast Cancer

Jun 24, 2015

Overall live birth rate per embryo transfer similar for infertile women undergoing IVF, cancer patients