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Prepubertal boys with cancer can bank on their testicular tissue for preserving fertility

November 30, 2015

All of the families in the study completed a questionnaire regarding their beliefs about fertility and the factors involved in their decision whether to freeze testicular tissue. Five of the 21 families refused the biopsy, with a key factor being that they were too overwhelmed by their child's cancer diagnosis to make the decision about the testicular biopsy. In addition, a majority of the families presented with the option said having a limited time to decide about the biopsy was stressful, as they often had to decide quickly, before therapy started. Other factors, such as religion, ethics, financial considerations, and the fact that cryopreservation is currently experimental did not appear to play a major role in the parents' decision-making.

"As stressful as a child's cancer diagnosis is, many parents said they wanted to be presented with options that might lead to future success in saving their sons' fertility," said Ginsberg, the director of the Cancer Survivorship Program at Children's Hospital.

Much work remains, including advancing the laboratory science, until it will be possible to use the frozen tissue to restore fertility for these boys. The ultimate hope is that, in the future, once the patient is ready to begin a family, health care providers would thaw the preserved tissue, then reimplant it in the patient's testes or use it for other assisted reproduction technologies. Ginsberg and her co-authors are cautiously optimistic that the fruits of this current research will make using this tissue to restore fertility a reality for her patients. In the meantime, she says, the positive response to the fertility preservation program encourages Children's Hospital staff to continue their efforts within the context of this research.

Source: Children's Hospital of Philadelphia