Long-term effects on sexual function and fertility after treatment of testicular cancer

Br J Cancer. 1999 May;80(5-6):801-7. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6690424.


This retrospective study evaluates the types and incidences of sexual disturbances and fertility distress in patients cured from testicular cancer and examines whether there is an effect resulting from different treatment modalities. A self-reported questionnaire was sent to 124 randomly selected patients who were treated at Hanover University Medical School between 1970 and 1993. Ninety-eight patients were included in the study, representing a response rate of 78%. All patients had been in complete remission (CR) for at least 24 months. The median age at diagnosis was 28 years (range 17-44). The median follow-up at the time of study was 12.0 years (range 2.8-25.6). Twenty patients (20%) had been treated for seminomatous and 78 patients (80%) for non-seminomatous germ cell tumours. Treatment included surveillance (7%), primary retroperitoneal lymph node dissection (RPLND) (13%), chemotherapy (CT) (33%), CT + secondary resection of residual retroperitoneal tumour mass (SRRTM) (43%) and infradiaphragmatic radiotherapy (4%). Patients receiving two treatment modalities (CT+SRRTM) reported more frequent an unfulfilled wish for children. Inability of ejaculation was clearly associated with RPLND and SRRTM. Subjective aspects of sexuality, like loss of sexual drive and reduced erectile potential, occurred only in a minority of patients after treatment. No abnormalities were observed concerning the course of pregnancies of partners. In conclusion, sexual dysfunction and infertility are common long-lasting sequelae in testicular cancer survivors affecting approximately 20% of patients. The relative risk for infertility appeared to be elevated for patients treated with the combination of CT+SRRTM. Twenty-one of 40 patients were able to fulfil their wish for children, and no congenital abnormalities were observed in these children.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Fathers
  • Female
  • Fertility*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / epidemiology
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / etiology*
  • Testicular Neoplasms / complications*
  • Testicular Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Testicular Neoplasms / surgery
  • Testicular Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Time Factors