Male fertility after childhood cancer

Male fertility after childhood cancer

Some cancers and cancer treatments can cause infertility. Infertility happens when you stop producing sperm or when your sperm is too damaged. Not all cancers and cancer treatments cause infertility.

Key points to remember about male fertility after childhood cancer

This page is written for young people who have had cancer treatment.

  • not all cancers and cancer treatments cause infertility
  • some do so it is important to understand your individual risks
  • the risk of any problems with fertility is different for everyone

Will I be infertile from either my cancer or my treatment?

Not all cancers and cancer treatments cause infertility but some do so it is important to understand your individual risks. Infertility happens when you stop producing sperm or when your sperm is too damaged. Azoospermia is the medical name for having no sperm in semen.

Why can infertility happen for males after childhood cancer?

Chemotherapy

If you've had chemotherapy with certain drugs, your healthcare team will talk to you about your individual risk of infertility. The most common chemotherapy treatments to cause infertility are Ifosphamide, Cyclophosphamide, Procarbazine, Melphalan, Thiotepa, CCNU, and BCNU. Your level of risk depends on how much you've had.

Radiation

If you've had radiation to your pelvis, testicles, lower spine, brain (affects your hormones) or total body irradiation (TBI), this can affect your fertility.

Surgery

Surgery to your testicles or other reproductive organs can affect your fertility.

Changes to your hormones

This can happen after radiation or surgery to the brain.

How do I know if infertility is a problem for me after childhood cancer?

You can have blood tests to check your hormone levels once you reach puberty. You can have a semen (sperm) analysis at any time to check if you are producing sperm. In some cases, sperm can recover up to several years after treatment.

There are a number of options available to help you become a dad if your fertility is affected.

Your healthcare team can talk with you about this in more detail.

What are my options if my fertility has been affected after childhood cancer?

There are options to help you become a dad. Your healthcare team can get you an appointment with a fertility clinic to talk about these in more detail.

Should I use contraception after childhood cancer?

Make sure to use condoms - protect you and others from STDs. And, don't assume you will be infertile from your treatment!

Yes, it's important to use contraception! Don't think that just because you've had some of these treatments you will be infertile. It's also important to use condoms to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases.

Will my children get cancer if I've had cancer treatment?

Some young people who have had cancer worry that their treatment may cause health problems in their own children. There is no evidence that this is the case. Except for some rare inherited cancers, there is also no evidence that your child will have an increased risk of developing cancer.

What if I had my sperm banked before treatment for childhood cancer?

If you had sperm banked before treatment, it is important to tell the bank if your contact details change. They will contact you from time to time. If they have lost contact with you for 10 or more years, they may destroy your banked sperm.

What if I have more questions about my fertility after childhood cancer?

You can talk to your healthcare team about any of these issues in more detail.

All the pages in the childhood cancer section of this website have been written by health professionals who work in the field of paediatric oncology. They have been reviewed by the members of the National Child Cancer Network (NZ). Medical information is authorised by the clinical leader of the National Child Cancer Network.

This page last reviewed 22 November 2018.
Email us your feedback


On this page