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High Successful Outcome with Banked Sperm from Cancer Patients
Ashok Agarwal, Ph.D.


Over the last decade, survival of cancer patients has increased significantly, and many of these survivors want families. But frequently, urologists fail to recommend sperm banking to men diagnosed with cancer, assuming that the sperm, which may be reduced in quality because of malignancy, cannot be used successfully in assisted reproduction techniques (ART). Some physicians may also assume that cryopreservation itself reduces the fertilizing potential of sperm too greatly for a successful ART.

Our review of the outcomes with banked sperm from cancer patients - the largest experience so far in the literature - shows that cryopreserved sperm from patients with cancer can be used with great success in ART.

We identified 25 men with cancer at our center who gave semen specimens for ART before they underwent cancer therapy and had the specimens transferred to the various assisted reproduction programs of their choice. Nine of these patients had testicular cancer, ten had Hodgkin's disease, and six had other cancers, including prostate cancer, leukemia, thyroid cancer, neuroendocrine cancer or lymphoma. We obtained information on the fertility potential of their specimens from medical records and by interviewing the physicians or patients directly.

The overall pregnancy rate was 52%, with 80% of the pregnancies resulting in live births. The rates were high no matter which form of ART was used - intrauterine insemination, in vitro fertilization, or intracytoplasmic sperm injection - and no matter what type of cancer the men had. No baby born in the group had a birth defect.

Our study proves that sperm from cancer patients should be banked because their sperm has normal fertilization potential and gives good result with ART. Using ART, at least half of these couples can establish a pregnancy with semen samples cryopreserved before cancer treatment. It is true that many men with malignant diseases have reduced sperm quality at the time their illness is diagnosed, but with the recent advances in ART, most of the cryopreserved sperm will be suitable for subsequent use. Therefore, any semen sample containing even a few hundred motile sperm should be frozen, regardless of its quality.

Our findings emphasize the need for physicians to encourage all men of reproductive age to consider banking their semen before cancer therapy. We recommend that any semen sample that contains motile sperm be frozen.

 
 
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Last Update : December 29, 2008
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