Cryopreservation Should Be Encouraged Prior to Cancer Treatment

Researchers have found that preserving sperm prior to cancer treatment significantly boosts the odds of men being able to have children after treatment.

The research, conducted at the University Medical Centre in Groningen, identified 334 survivors of Hodgkin's lymphoma who underwent treatment for the disease between 1974 and 2004 and who desired children after treatment.

A significant impact on conception

The retrospective study found that freezing their sperm – cryopreservation – literally doubled their chances of having children afterwards, compared to those who did not freeze sperm. Of those men who underwent cryopreservation, a full 62 percent were able to have children.

According to researcher Dr. Marleen van der Kaaij:

Our study shows that cryopreservation of semen before cancer treatment has a large impact: one in five children born after Hodgkin's lymphoma treatment was born using cryopreserved semen, Cryopreservation should always be offered to all male patients about to undergo cancer treatment – even in situations where treatment should start urgently or where first-line treatment is not very toxic to fertility. Clinicians should [realize] the enormous impact of this cheap and simple procedure.

Notable findings

Other findings included the following:

  • Chemotherapy was a motivating factor, with those receiving chemo being four times more likely to have cryopreservation.
  • Men under 30 and men with higher education levels were more likely to freeze their sperm.
  • The practice has grown increasingly common, with the numbers of men undergoing cryopreservation before treatment increasing exponentially every decade or so.
  • A full 23 percent of these men were unable to conceive naturally.

Researchers hope that these findings, published in the journal Human Reproduction, will encourage doctors to encourage their male patients to undergo cryopreservation if they have any inkling that the men may want children after cancer treatment.

Source: Human Reproduction

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