Testicular Cancer And Future Fertility
A cancer diagnosis can be scary and lead to many questions. For men with testicular cancer, future fertility is an important topic. Although some men may not be able to father a child once treatment is completed, many can by taking the proper steps.
What is testicular cancer?
Cancer that forms in one or both of the testicles is called testicular cancer. This specific type of cancer most commonly affects men ages 15-24. The first symptom a man may notice is a lump on the testicle. Other possible symptoms include swelling, heaviness, achiness, or pain in the testes or scrotum. This cancer can spread quickly but is often highly treatable.
Only 1 testicle needed
Both testicles can produce testosterone and make sperm. In most cases of testicular cancer, only one testis is affected and has to be surgically removed. The unaffected teste can go on to produce enough sperm to achieve a pregnancy. To understand post-treatment sperm production, men can consider asking for a semen analysis from a doctor. This test can show how well the remaining testicle works and whether a pregnancy is possible. In cases where both testicles are removed, sperm production will stop completely. These men can have a child through adoption or donor sperm, but natural conception is not possible.
The role of chemotherapy
Most men with testicular cancer will receive chemotherapy as part of treatment. While life-saving, many chemotherapy drugs can cause infertility. The good news is the effect is usually temporary. For most men, fertility returns to normal a few months after treatment is completed. In some cases, when higher doses of chemotherapy are used, fertility never returns.
The best way for a man to preserve fertility is to bank sperm before undergoing testicular cancer treatment. Sperm banking is typically done at a fertility clinic. The patient will be led to a private room and given a sample cup. When ready, the man will masturbate until ejaculation occurs and semen can be collected. The specimen is then frozen for future use. Whether to preserve sperm can be difficult, especially for younger patients or men uncertain about future plans for children. However, banking before treatment is the best way to guarantee a future pregnancy can be achieved.
Treatment now, kids later
For anyone with a cancer diagnosis, treatment is the immediate focus. The doctor will advise on the best approach to remove the cancerous cells and achieve remission. Testicular cancer patients should be sure to consider fertility before proceeding. The simple step of sperm banking can provide the patient with a chance to have children later in life if desired.