The American Cancer Society estimates that around 8,850 new cases of testicular cancer will be diagnosed in 2017. For men aged 15-44, it is the most commonly diagnosed cancer. Since this cancer affects part of the male reproductive system, a prominent concern is the risk of damage to fertility.
What is Testicular Cancer?
Cancer can happen in nearly any part of the body because it occurs when cells begin to grow faster than they should. More than 90% of cancers of the testes begin in something called the germ cells. Germ cells are specialized cells in the testicles that make sperm. The two most prominent types of germ cell tumors in men are seminomas and non-seminomas, and doctors can identify them by examining them under a microscope.
Cancer and Fertility
In most cases, cancer occurs in only one testis. If the testis must be removed, the remaining can typically still produce enough testosterone to keep the patient healthy. In some cases, even though fertility will be hindered immediately following cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, fertility can return after around two years. Because one testis can perform the same functions as two, it is possible to conceive even after the removal of one testis.
Many people who are worried about their possibility for conception after treatment for testicular cancer might consider depositing their sperm into a sperm bank before beginning treatment. Sperm that survive the initial process of freezing can last indefinitely, making this a great option for those who aren’t sure if or when they want to conceive.
Heightened Risk of Testicular Cancer?
There are a few factors that could put a person at a higher risk for testicular cancer. Being born with an undescended testicle could result in a higher risk of testicular cancer even if you have had surgery to fix the problem. Having a previous diagnosis of testicular cancer in one testi could also put you at a higher risk of developing it in the other testi.
While dealing with any cancer is concerning for many reasons, having testicular cancer doesn’t necessarily mean the end to your chances of expanding your family. If you are interested in learning more about your conception options and pregnancy and conception in general, subscribe to our newsletter and read more on our blog.