Young male patients undergoing treatment for some cancers or blood disorders at CHOC Children’s have another hope for fertility preservation.
The Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s is the only program on the West Coast offering testicular cryopreservation as an option for young male patients unable to bank sperm but who would like to take steps to preserve future fertility.
Under the program, testicular tissue is biopsied and stored in liquid nitrogen at temperatures close to absolute zero for future use. Recent research indicates these biopsies contain stem cells, leading to the possibility of generating sperm in the future, says Dr. Carol Lin, an oncologist at the Cancer Institute, and Lisa Klimpel, an oncology nurse practitioner.
CHOC was among a group of U.S. and Israeli institutions to participate in an eight-year study wherein a network of centers used standardized protocol and centralized processing and freezing to collect and store biopsies.
In total, 189 patients provided samples. A quarter of each sample was used for research and the rest stored for future use. These patients ranged from ages 5 months to 34, with an average age of about 8.
Recently published in the journal Human Reproduction, the study, of which Klimpel is a co-author, found that centralized processing and freezing of testicular tissue from multiple sites is feasible and could accelerate recruitment.
A generation ago, cancer survivors had few options to have biological children. Today, many solutions exist, however many oncologists, despite these advancements, still don’t discuss fertility preservation with their patients, particularly young patients.
At CHOC, however, discussions about fertility preservation with cancer patients early into diagnosis and treatment are a matter of course, as the program works to ensure a meaningful survivorship, says Dr. Lin and Klimpel.