Sperm banking and rate of assisted reproduction treatment

Insights from a 15-year cryopreservation program for male cancer patients




Semen cryostorage remains the only proven method to preserve fertility in men with cancer. However, the necessity and the justification of banking spermatozoa have been questioned because it has been reported that only a small percentage of patients are referred for assisted reproductive technologies using frozen semen.


A 15-year cryopreservation program involving 776 men with malignant diseases who were referred to the study institution for semen cryopreservation before proceeding with chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy was reviewed. Data regarding cancer diagnosis, age, semen quality, and use of frozen semen were analyzed.


Sperm banking was not performed for 90 of the 776 subjects (11.6%) because of azoospermia. Sperm quality was reduced in men with testicular carcinoma. To date, 36 of the 686 patients who had banked spermatozoa (5.2%) have attended the clinic for assisted conception treatments using frozen spermatozoa. Cumulative rates related to the use of frozen semen at 4, 8, and 12 years were 4.5%, 8.7%, and 11.8%, respectively. Relevant factors demonstrated to be significantly associated with a lower probability of using frozen material were a younger age at the time of cryostorage and a diagnosis of testicular carcinoma.


The rate of referral for assisted reproductive techniques in patients who have banked their semen is low but tends to rapidly increase extending the length of follow-up. The cumulative percentage of use is at least above 10% but a longer follow-up is required to draw definitive conclusions. A diagnosis of testicular carcinoma is associated with a lower rate of use when compared with other cancers. Cancer 2003;97:1624–9. © 2003 American Cancer Society.

DOI 10.1002/cncr.11229