When famed cyclist Lance Armstrong developed testicular cancer, he had sperm stored so he could father children later – a process that’s now well-established for that type of cancer.
But many men don’t realize that it’s important to store sperm in any type of cancer, says Dr. Victor Beshay, a fertility specialist at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
“Some types of chemotherapy or radiation treatment can cause permanent infertility in a matter of weeks,” Dr. Beshay says. “Even though a person might be in shock at the diagnosis, it’s critical to consult a fertility doctor immediately, before treatment begins or as early as possible after it has started.”
Parents and doctors should discuss the issue with teenage boys, who might not yet be thinking about fertility and future offspring, Dr. Beshay says. Many couples have conceived using frozen sperm after cancer treatment, even years later, he said.
To store sperm, it is kept immersed in liquid nitrogen at minus-321 degree Fahrenheit. The technique, called cryopreservation, has been employed for decades and is now considered routine.
Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/obgyn to learn more about gynecology and obstetrics’ clinical services at UT Southwestern, including fertility and advanced reproductive medicine. Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/cancercenter to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services for cancer.
Media Contact: Aline McKenzie