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Infertility and testicular cancer

Written by Community Health Network on 4/17/2014 7:00:00 AM

Testosterone levels and infertility can be affected by cancer treatment, but it differs from person to person.

Testicular cancer normally only develops in one testicle. If that testicle is removed, the other testicle can usually make enough testosterone to keep hormone levels up. The age of the person and the pre-treatment gonadal function also play a large role in the testosterone level after treatment.

However, if the both testicles have been removed or if a new cancer develops, supplemental testosterone can be given. Most often this is in the form of a gel or patch that is put on the skin or a monthly shot.

Men who develop testicular cancer can also experience issues with fertility, with chemotherapy and radiation patients being at the highest risk for infertility. Patients who undergo a non-nerve-sparing retroperitoneal lymph node dissection are likely to have fertility issues due to problems with ejaculation. However, sperm banking is offered to patients prior to starting cancer treatment if fatherhood is something the patient wants to consider. Additional options, like in vitro fertilization, also exist to help men father children post-treatment.

Concerned about infertility or low hormone levels?

Call our cancer care experts at 800-777-7775 to have your questions answered.


Fertility drugs not linked to increased breast cancer risk

Written by Community Health Network on 4/7/2014 10:00:00 AM

A 30-year follow-up study of more than 12,000 women shows if they took fertility drugs (clomiphene citrate or gonadotropins) this treatment did not increase their risk for developing breast cancer.

Previous studies have reported conflicting results, from increased and decreased risk, to no association. Overall, during the 30-year period, only 749 of the women in this study were diagnosed with breast cancer.

However, if women received up to 12 fertility treatment cycles and were unable to become pregnant, their risk for developing breast cancer was increased. The leading author on the study noted that the cancer risk to these women “may be related to persistent infertility rather than an effect of the fertility medications.”

Source: National Cancer Institute–funded study, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention


Former Olympian gives birth after cancer

Written by Community Health Network on 2/17/2014 7:15:00 PM

Shannon Miller, former Olympic gymnast, is an ovarian cancer survivorThis month we’re recalling former U.S. Olympians who were challenged by cancer. One such Olympian is Shannon Miller, who competed as a gymnast in two Summer Games: Barcelona in 1992 and Atlanta in 1996. She was one of the “Magnificent Seven” and is the most decorated American gymnast in history.

Miller was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in February of 2011 after physicians discovered a cyst on her ovary during a routine gynecological exam. Miller underwent surgery to remove her left ovary and had nine weeks of chemotherapy treatment.

Last June, Miller and her husband welcomed a healthy baby girl, named Sterling. This achievement rivals her Olympic performance, especially because Miller is a cancer survivor.

One concern facing women with ovarian cancer is infertility post-treatment. While Miller already had a son, Rocco, she had considered having other children. In a People magazine interview she said, “Instead of calling my parents to tell them they had another grandchild on the way, I was calling to tell them I may have cancer. My world stopped.”

Now, Miller recognizes motherhood as her biggest achievement. “I've been blessed to have the opportunity to do some amazing things in my life, but being a mom is second to none,” she said.

Fertility and cancer

For many women with ovarian cancer, fertility may not be possible due to treatment. In cases like Miller’s, the cancer was only in one ovary, still allowing her to reproduce. However, if you have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and fertility is an important issue, there are options for preserving fertility.

Cancer prevention

In 2013, 450 women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Age, obesity, reproductive history, birth control, gynecological surgery, fertility drugs and family history can all be risk factors for ovarian cancer. Symptoms often include discomfort in the lower abdomen, weight loss, abnormal bowel movement or urination, vaginal bleeding, or shortness of breath. But knowing the risk factors and symptoms can help prevent ovarian cancer. If you think you may be at risk or are experiencing any of the symptoms above, contact your OB/GYN.

Ask an expert

For more information early detection and treatment of female cancers call 800-777-7775 or ask Dr. Wafic ElMasri, gynecologic cancer expert


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