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Urology. 1995 Sep;46(3):382-9.

Effect of cryopreservation on semen quality in patients with testicular cancer.

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  • 1Department of Urology, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Ohio 44195, USA.



Current techniques in cryopreservation of human semen substantially decrease sperm quality. In addition, the pregnancy rate using cryopreserved sperm obtained from testicular cancer patients is lower than when sperm from normal fertile men is used. However, it is still unclear whether cryopreserved sperm from these patients is inherently defective or if the sperm loses its motility after thawing. This study was undertaken to assess the effect of cryopreservation on the quality and motion characteristics of semen from patients with testicular cancer before definitive therapy compared with semen from normal volunteers.


We compared the sperm quality before and after cryopreservation in samples from 34 patients with testicular cancer and 30 normal volunteers who were referred for sperm banking over a 7-year period. The effects of cancer stage and histologic type on various semen parameters were also examined. A computer-assisted semen analysis was performed before and after cryopreservation on each specimen. The nitrogen vapor technique using Test yolk buffer with glycerol as a cryoprotective agent was used for cryopreservation. The motile sperm count and motion characteristics (motility, velocity, linearity, amplitude of the lateral head movement, motility index) were analyzed before and after cryopreservation and compared between the groups.


Semen quality did not significantly differ among patients with Stage I, II, or III cancer. However, semen quality tended to be poorer at higher cancer stages. In general, semen quality was better among patients with pure seminomas than with pure embryonal tumors; quality was worst among patients with mixed germ cell tumors. However, 71.4% of patients with mixed tumors presented with Stage III disease, whereas all patients with seminomas presented with Stage I disease. Significant differences were also seen in prefreeze motility (median, 42% [interquartile range, 24 to 51] versus 60.5% [range, 49 to 73]; P = 0.0004) and motile sperm count (6.7 x 10(6)/mL [range, 3.4 to 14.4] versus 50.0 [range, 24.6 to 72.0]; P = 0.0001) in patients compared with controls, respectively. The motile sperm count and percent motility significantly decreased in both patients and controls after cryopreservation (P = 0.0001). However, the percentage decline in motile sperm count and motion characteristics after cryopreservation did not differ significantly between patients and controls (P > 0.01).


We conclude that the effect of cryopreservation on sperm quality in patients with testicular cancer is identical to its effect on sperm from normal fertile men. Differences in values after preservation are explained by poor semen characteristics before freezing; semen quality declines with more extensive disease. Stage I patients also had poorer quality than control subjects. Thus, we recommend that routine sperm banking be encouraged among all patients with testicular cancer before the initiation of specific medical treatment. We also recommend that future efforts be focused on improving the technique of sperm banking.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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