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What Cancer Patients Need to Know About Fertility Before and After Treatment

Posted on December 1, 2015

For many cancer patients in the past few decades, the time immediately after their diagnosis was solely dedicated to forming an effective treatment plan, often including chemotherapy and radiation without factoring fertility into the process. However, in recent years, male and female cancer patients have options to preserve their fertility, thanks to advances in reproductive technology and cryopreservation. More physicians are talking to their patients about fertility in the time following a cancer diagnosis.

How does cancer treatment affect fertility?

Life-saving cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation can potentially harm a person’s fertility. In the understandable rush to begin treatment, physicians often did not provide their patients with a full picture of fertility after treatment. Any lasting fertility issues that stemmed from cancer treatment likely came as a deeply upsetting surprise to those men and women who expected to conceive a child naturally without fertility services.

Sometimes, based on an individual diagnosis, it is not possible to prolong the start of cancer treatment in order to preserve fertility. Patients are advised to speak to their oncologist about fertility and family planning goals as soon as possible so sperm, egg or embryo freezing can be considered. Your oncologist can recommend the best next steps to take.

For men, there are several types of cancer than can affect male fertility, in addition to potential side effects from cancer treatment. Testicular cancer, prostate cancer, Lymphoma, Hodgkin’s, Leukemia and any childhood cancer before puberty can affect fertility. In males, the most common cases of infertility post-cancer are low sperm count and overall infertility.

How can men preserve their fertility prior to cancer treatment?

The Fertility Center of California (FCC) offers men facing a recent cancer diagnosis the opportunity to create a sperm sample for long-term storage in the comfort and privacy of their own home. With our @Home Sperm Freeze Kit, men send their specimen from anywhere in the U.S. to FCC for long-term storage. Each kit is delivered with all of the proper materials and paperwork needed, including return shipping labels.

Overnight delivery is used in order to ensure that we receive and process the specimen within 24 hours. For male cancer patients concerned about the timing of fertility preservation and their treatment, the @Home Sperm Freeze Kit can help remove this worry.

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