If you’ve been diagnosed with testicular cancer, your treatment plan will depend on many individual factors, such as your general health and the size and stage of the tumor. In general, though, treatment typically involves surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or a combination of two or more of these options. Many individuals who are facing treatment for testicular cancer wonder if it will affect their fertility.
Fertility and testicular cancer surgery
Testicular cancer often develops in just one of the testicles, meaning that the other testicle can continue to generate testosterone and function as normal. If surgery is used to remove the affected testicle, many men are able to maintain fertility with the healthy testicle. However, if both testicles are affected and need to be removed, the patient will not maintain fertility. Additionally, testicular cancer itself may reduce fertility, even if one testicle is unaffected.
How chemotherapy and radiation therapy affect fertility
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can also affect fertility. Chemotherapy for testicular cancer often causes infertility on a temporary basis. After some time has passed from the end of chemotherapy, fertility returns for many men. However, it is possible that fertility will not return, even after treatment has ended.
When radiation therapy is used to treat testicular cancer, the unaffected testicle will be shielded to help protect it from the high-energy waves used in this treatment. As long as the healthy testicle is not damaged by the radiation therapy, fertility will be maintained. However, even with the shield, there is a risk of losing fertility in the healthy testicle. Additionally, your physician may recommend waiting for a period of time after receiving this treatment before trying to have a child.
Planning ahead before testicular cancer treatment
If you have been diagnosed with testicular cancer and have concerns about your current or future fertility, it is important to consult with a fertility expert in conjunction with your treatment plan. A fertility specialist can make recommendations, such as banking sperm before receiving treatment, to help you learn about your options and plan ahead.
To discuss testicular cancer treatment or fertility questions in more detail, we welcome you to make an appointment at Moffitt Cancer Center by calling 1-888-663-3488 or filling out a new patient registration form online. No referral is required.