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Hum Reprod Update. 2004 Nov-Dec;10(6):525-32. Epub 2004 Aug 19.

Preserving the reproductive potential of men and boys with cancer: current concepts and future prospects.

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Centre for Reproductive Medicine, Dutch-speaking Free University Brussels, Brussels, Belgium.


The introduction of ICSI has totally changed the reproductive prospects for boys and men who are treated for cancer. With post-pubertal boys and adult men, semen cryopreservation should be offered to every patient undergoing a cancer treatment since preservation of fertility cannot be guaranteed for an individual patient and treatment may shift to a more sterilizing regimen. In the ICSI era, all semen samples, even those containing only a few motile sperm, should be accepted for cryopreservation. Patients who are azoospermic at the time cancer is diagnosed may be offered testicular sperm extraction and cryopreservation of testicular tissue. With pre-pubertal boys, no prevention of sterility by sperm banking is possible since no active spermatogenesis is present. However, in the next decade, prevention of sterility in childhood cancer survivors will become a major challenge for reproductive medicine. In theory, testicular stem cell banking is the only way of preserving the future fertility of boys undergoing a sterilizing chemotherapy. In animal models, testicular stem cell transplantation has proved to be effective; however, it remains to be shown that this technique is clinically efficient as well, especially when frozen-thawed cells are to be transplanted. Malignancy recurrence prevention is an important prerequisite for any clinical application of testicular stem cell transplantation. Although still at the experimental stage, cryobanking of testicular tissue from pre-pubertal boys may now be considered an acceptable strategy.

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