Male cancer survivors losing the chance to become fathers after frozen sperm is destroyed
Young men who suffer cancer are given chance to store sperm in case invasive treatment damages fertility
But many do not realise it can be disposed of after a decade if their fertility has not been tested
14:33 GMT, 4 January 2013
15:15 GMT, 4 January 2013
Young men who have undergone treatments like chemotherapy or radiotherapy for cancer are routinely offered the chance to store their sperm to ward against the risk of post-treatment infertility.
But many do not realise that their
sperm can be disposed of after a decade if doctors cannot confirm
ongoing infertility – a fact that could leave them unable to father
children in the future.
Despite banking sperm prior to treatment, many young men do not attend follow-up appointment to assess their fertility
A study funded by Cancer Research UK found that more than a third of men who bank their sperm prior to cancer treatment do not attend a single follow-up appointment to assess their fertility.
Scientists from the University of Sheffield, quizzed 499 male cancer survivors aged 18-55 years who had banked sperm in either Sheffield or Nottingham.
More than one-third of the 193 men who responded said they had never attended a follow-up appointment to assess their fertility, while an additional third had only attended one session.
The possibility of fertility being reduced by treatment should be properly discussed, says Cancer Research UK
Experts believe that patients should receive regular letters from fertility clinics underlining the importance of attending their appointments.
Dr Allan Pacey, senior lecturer in andrology at the University of Sheffield, 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.'
Julia Frater, senior information nurse at Cancer Research UK, agreed: 'This research highlights the need to talk to men about the value of ongoing fertility monitoring during the years following cancer treatment, and not just when they are diagnosed.'
'Cancer mostly affects people after they have already completed their families, but for men who haven't fathered children, the possibility of fertility being reduced by chemotherapy or radiotherapy should also be properly discussed before treatment starts.'