A writer for the NCI Cancer Bulletin interviewed me yesterday about Dr. Peter Schlegel’s recent article in the Journal of Clinical Oncology reporting success in getting sperm using microdissection testis sperm extraction from the testis of men who have had chemotherapy for cancer. Even if no sperm were found on testis biopsy, sperm could still be retrieved from a number of men using the microdissection technique. About two of every five men had a successful retrieval that had chemotherapy in the past.
That’s great news for the men who had chemotherapy for cancer who were lucky enough to have a successful sperm retrieval, and says a lot about how far we’ve come in retrieving sperm even in difficult conditions. But the best option would have been to have sperm frozen before beginning chemotherapy. Unfortunately, even today only about half of medical oncologists discuss freezing sperm with men before chemotherapy. There’s no good reason for that fact: a man can freeze sperm without delaying chemotherapy, and if he does, he can preserve his ability to have children in the future.
Medical oncologists save lives with cancer treatment. A life saved should be a full one, with a family if a man so desires. If you’re a medical oncologist, please talk about freezing sperm with men before beginning chemotherapy. If you’re a man facing the challenge of cancer and want to preserve your fertility, ask your doctor about freezing sperm.