According to a report by the Annals of Oncology, male cancer patients are not being offered a chance to bank sperm before undergoing treatments that may hinder the ability to reproduce after treatment.

Chemotherapy and radiation treatments tend to damage the male reproductive system enough to cease sperm production. While semen is still produced, there are no viable sperm or no sperm at all present. Male cancer patients can bank sperm for use after cancer treatment if they so choose to parent a child. But, if oncologists are not offering this to male cancer patients, the ability to reproduce could be lost forever.

NICE, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence suggests men and post-pubescent boys, be given the opportunity to store sperm in a sperm bank before undergoing cancer treatment. In some cases, cancer treatment can destroy the ability to produce sperm and after a full recovery, the patient is unable to conceive. Sperm banking is a viable solution, but one that is not being offered as it should be.

About 500 United Kingdom clinicians were surveyed about how they discuss sperm banking with male cancer patients. About 21% did not know the local rules, regulations and locations of sperm banks with only 25% of oncologists and haematologists discussing the option with male cancer patients.

Professor Geraldine Hartshone offers, “We're urging clinicians to discuss sperm banking with all their male cancer patients. Improved awareness and access to training for clinicians would hopefully increase both the opportunity and the uptake of sperm banking for cancer patients.”

Source:  Hartshorne, G and Adams, A et al. Annals of Oncology. 29 October, 2010.