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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 November 2005, 23:11 GMT
Cancer patients 'can be fathers'
Dad feeding baby
Most testicular cancer patients will be able to father children
Most men treated for testicular cancer will be able to father children, researchers in Norway have said.

A team from Haukeland University Hospital found 76% of 544 men who tried to have children after treatment for the cancer succeeded within 20 years.

Writing in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, they said lowest paternity rates were seen among those treated with higher chemotherapy doses.

But even then, half the men were able to father children.

Little reliable data

Testicular cancer is the most common cancer among men aged 20 to 40. However, about 95% of patients are cured through treatment.

But, because the cancer affects men at the stage in their lives when they are likely to be considering starting a family, their ability to father children after treatment is often a concern.

There has been little reliable data available to quantify paternity rates.

With recent advances in assisted fertility techniques, more testicular cancer survivors may be helped to father children
Dr Marianne Brydoy
Lead researcher

In this study, researchers looked at the cases of 1,433 men who had been treated for testicular cancer in Norway between 1980 and 1994, and who were then invited to participate in a follow-up survey between 1998 and 2002. Conception after treatment was attempted by 554.

The researchers found 71% were successful within 15 years of treatment (without the use of frozen semen), and 76% were successful within 20 years.

However, success was found to depend on the type of treatment the men were given.

Just 48% of men given higher doses of chemotherapy (more than 85mg of cisplatin) had children.

However, 92% of men who were simply monitored after the removal of the affected testicle became fathers.

Sperm banking

The average time from diagnosis to birth of the first child was 6.6 years, but this also varied with treatment type.

About 22% of couples who attempted post-treatment conception reported that they needed some form of assistance with reproduction.

Dr Marianne Brydoy, of Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen, who led the research, said: "With recent advances in assisted fertility techniques, more testicular cancer survivors may be helped to father children.

"However, because infertility cannot be predicted on an individual basis, it is important to continue the policy of offering sperm preservation [banking] prior to treatment."

'Moving target'

Writing in the journal, Dr Scott Saxman, of the National Cancer Institute, notes that the results of this study will help physicians to provide answers to testicular cancer patients who are concerned about their ability to father children.

But he added: "However, this will be a moving target as treatment approaches continue to change and improve."

The study follows UK research which also looked at fertility rates among men who were treated for testicular cancer.

Scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust studied almost 700 patients who had been treated for testicular cancer between 1982 and 1992 .

Again, about three-quarters succeeded in becoming fathers.

'I had testicular cancer at 18'
02 Aug 05 |  Health

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