Diagnosed with cancer but hoping to become a parent: Cryopreservations gives men a chance
20. June 2018
As already reported last month (in our article about infertile women and cancer), more and more couples are deciding to postpone their plans to start a family. Yet the older an individual is in his or her quest to become a parent, the higher the risk of developing cancer. Nonetheless, many cancer patients today maintain hope that modern medicine will cure their sickness. As such, many men are eager to have children after having survived cancer.
Testicular cancer has become increasingly common in the past decades
Wanting children despite having cancer is becoming an increasingly relevant topic – especially for men. In the past 2 decades, the number of testicular cancer patients has grown significantly. Between the 1970s and 1980s, the rate at which men were diagnosed with testicular cancer increased by 50%. This trend is continuing, according to American research results (World J Urol 2015, 33: 623-631). Young men in Europe and the US are particularly affected. Germany has the highest rate of testicular cancer. Currently, no clear statement can be made about the causes of increasing testicular cancer. Risk factors of the sickness include cryptorchidism (postural abnormality of the testicle or displacement of the male gonad into the abdomen), neonatal birth and twin birth. If an increased risk of testicular cancer is suspected, it may be useful for men to ask about a fertility reserve.
9 out of 100,000 fall ill with testicular cancer—infertility due to chemotherapy
On average, about 9 out of every 100,000 are diagnosed with testicular cancer (source: FertiProjekt). Both the cancer and the therapeutic measures can severely damage a man’s testicular tissue or germ cells. Depending on the dose of chemotherapy or the intensity of the radiation, transient or permanent infertility may occur. Male cancer patients who are hoping to have children but fear a restriction of their testicular function due to the cancer and therapy can undergo fertility-protective measures shorter after their cancer diagnosis. Generally, patients are advised to cryopreserve healthy and formidable germ cells before beginning cancer therapy. If the male gonads in the tests subsequently can no longer function after therapy, the cryopreserved sperm can be used after the disease has been successfully cured.
The proven success of freezing seeds or testicular tissue as a means of preserving the opportunity to have children
Cryopreservation has been tried and tested for several years, yielding strong results. Of the 250 million sperms per ejaculation, about 50% survive the “social freezing” process. This is usually a sufficient amount to fertilize an egg at a later date. In azoospermia, the ejaculation may contain no sperm. In such cases, parts of the testicular tissue can be frozen instead of sperm. With a preventive cryopreservation, the patient usually faces no risks. If the testicular tissue is removed, however, this requires an operative procedure that poses minimal risk. In the process, the scrotal skin is first opened, then the testicles are exposed on both sides. The patient is anesthetized during the procedure. You can find out more about this procedure on our article on TESE/MESA.
VivaNeo’s decades of experience in social freezing and cryopreservation
Our VivaNeo fertility centers specialize in cryopreservation procedures. Our experts will gladly advise you on the necessity and process of social freezing. If you decide to undergo cryopreservation, you will be asked to submit multiple sperm samples to us. We then take care of the preservation and storage of the germ cells. We are, of course, also happy to support you after your cancer treatments and will continue to support you throughout all your fertilization measures. The costs associated with cryopreserving sperm or testicular tissue are clinical treatment costs, laboratory costs (for preservation) and storage costs in a long-term sperm depot. Through a detailed consultation, we can sit down and discuss which treatment alternatives best suit your needs. As childcare experts, our priority is to support you in fulfilling your desire to become a parent, particularly against the pressure of limited time and a life-threatening illness. As such, we try to inform our patients that are of reproductive age about their treatment options as quickly and comprehensively as possible, so that their fertility can be maintained before chemo or radiation therapy.