New strategies needed to encourage male cancer survivors to consider future fertility

January 3, 2013

Pioneering research presented at the Fertility 2013 conference today (Thursday 3 January 2013) shows that a large proportion of male cancer patients are missing out on appropriate fertility advice.

banking is routinely recommended for all diagnosed with who are at risk of long-term infertility, caused by treatment such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Infertility can be permanent or temporary depending on the individual's circumstances and men may need to attend follow-up appointments to assess their fertility in the years after they have been discharged from cancer treatment.

These appointments are important to receive appropriate fertility advice and in light of current sperm banking regulations which state sperm samples should be disposed of after 10 years if ongoing infertility cannot be confirmed.

Dr Allan Pacey, Senior Lecturer in Andrology, and Professor Christine Eiser, Professor in Psychology, at the University of Sheffield sent questionnaires to 499 male aged between 18 and 55 who had undergone cancer treatment more than five years ago and had taken the opportunity to bank sperm in either Sheffield or Nottingham.

The research, funded by Cancer Research UK, showed that of the 193 responses over a third of men (36 per cent) had never attended a follow-up appointment to assess their fertility, with a further third (33 per cent) only attending on one occasion.

Dr Allan Pacey said: "Trying to engage men with this subject is notoriously difficult. For those of us who run sperm banks, many men store their sperm and then do not contact us again, even though there are legal reasons to keep in contact.

"Our research suggests that there is a need to educate men about the benefits of attending follow-up fertility clinics and the long-term consequences of non-attendance."

Non-attendance was found to be more likely in men who had suffered fewer side-effects at the time of treatment, had a more of banking sperm and had a more negative attitude to the disposal of sperm.

Missing follow-up appointments to monitor fertility means cancer survivors do not receive education and options available to them. In many cases, men may also be unaware their sperm may be disposed of if ongoing infertility cannot be confirmed. This could have a major impact on their future life choices and ability to father children.

The study shows new education strategies are urgently needed on an ongoing basis from the time of diagnosis to inform men about the importance of fertility monitoring as well as encouraging more men to attend these follow-up appointments, with patients receiving timely letters from clinics highlighting the benefits of attendance.

Professor Christine Eiser said: "Sperm banking is highly valued by men who want the option to have children once cancer treatment is completed.

"Our research found that many men do not know how can affect their fertility or the likelihood of fertility recovery over the long-term. Having received a cancer diagnosis, patients immediately need to take in a lot of information regarding treatments and side-effects and it can be challenging to discuss potential longer-term effects on fertility at this time. We therefore need a mechanism to ensure that men are given information about fertility issues at a later date and certainly before treatment ends."

Explore further: Men and women receive different fertility advice following cancer diagnosis

More information: This research will be presented at Fertility 2013 at 16:45-17:15 on Thursday 3 January 2013. Research presented is based on: Pacey et al. 2012. Hum. Reprod. 27 (11): 3132-9 Eiser et al. 2011. Hum. Reprod. 26 (10): 2791-8

Related Stories

Men and women receive different fertility advice following cancer diagnosis

May 30, 2012
There are significant gaps in the information women receive about their future fertility following cancer diagnosis, suggests a new paper published today (30 May) in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Unhealthy lifestyles have little impact on sperm quality: study

June 12, 2012
Lifestyle advice given by doctors to men diagnosed with infertility should be radically overhauled according to research published today (Wednesday).

New research gives fresh hope to couples with 'unexplained infertility'

November 14, 2012
New research from Queen's University Belfast has uncovered the cause of infertility for 80 per cent of couples previously diagnosed with 'unexplained infertility'.

Recommended for you

New therapeutic approach for difficult-to-treat subtype of ovarian cancer identified

July 24, 2017
A potential new therapeutic strategy for a difficult-to-treat form of ovarian cancer has been discovered by Wistar scientists. The findings were published online in Nature Cell Biology.

Immune cells the missing ingredient in new bladder cancer treatment

July 24, 2017
New research offers a possible explanation for why a new type of cancer treatment hasn't been working as expected against bladder cancer.

Shooting the achilles heel of nervous system cancers

July 20, 2017
Virtually all cancer treatments used today also damage normal cells, causing the toxic side effects associated with cancer treatment. A cooperative research team led by researchers at Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center ...

Molecular changes with age in normal breast tissue are linked to cancer-related changes

July 20, 2017
Several known factors are associated with a higher risk of breast cancer including increasing age, being overweight after menopause, alcohol intake, and family history. However, the underlying biologic mechanisms through ...

Immune-cell numbers predict response to combination immunotherapy in melanoma

July 20, 2017
Whether a melanoma patient will better respond to a single immunotherapy drug or two in combination depends on the abundance of certain white blood cells within their tumors, according to a new study conducted by UC San Francisco ...

Discovery could lead to better results for patients undergoing radiation

July 19, 2017
More than half of cancer patients undergo radiotherapy, in which high doses of radiation are aimed at diseased tissue to kill cancer cells. But due to a phenomenon known as radiation-induced bystander effect (RIBE), in which ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.