Many testicular cancer patients are able to father children

According to Dr Robert Huddart of the Institute of Cancer Research in London, the vast majority of men, after testicular cancer treatment, can go on and have a family as normal.

Huddart says that men who have surgery to remove the tumour have the least problems but even patients who have radiotherapy and chemotherapy are able to have children.

But he does add that there are a group of patients, regardless of what treatment they have had, who will have difficulty having children because the illness and low fertility are associated.

Men in their late 20s and early 30s, are most commonly affected with the cancer, and numbers have risen rapidly in recent decades.

It is the most common cancer among young men in some countries, and around 50,000 new cases are reported worldwide each year.

In their research Huddart and his colleagues studied 700 patients who had been treated for the disease between 1982-1992 and asked them to complete a questionnaire about their health and fertility.

Of the 200 patients who admitted they were trying to have a child, 77 percent were successful, and an additional 10 percent fathered children through fertility treatment.

It was found that men who had surgery and no follow-up treatment had an 85 percent success rate, followed by 82 percent for patients following radiotherapy and 71 percent after chemotherapy.

The fertility rate dropped to 67 percent for patients who had both chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Despite the promising results, Huddart said men who want children are always advised to bank their sperm before chemotherapy even though most would be expected to recover their fertility.

Apparently, if the disease is diagnosed and treated early, survival rates are very good.

Lance Armstrong, currently closing in on his seventh consecutive Tour de France victory, suffered from the illness.

The highest rates of testicular cancer in the world are seen in Denmark, Switzerland and Norway, and as the disease is common is some families, researchers know there is a genetic component to the illness which accounts for about 20 percent of cases.

Researchers also suspect that environmental factors and exposure to higher levels of the female hormone oestrogen in the womb are contributing factors to the increase in the disease.

The researchers suggest that men's testosterone levels should be monitored because men with low levels tend to be less sexually active.

Early symptoms of the illness include a lump or sore on the testicles, pain or soreness, a persistent cough, blood in the urine and stomach or bowel problems.

The findings are published in the British Journal of Cancer.

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