Gonadal and sexual function in men treated for childhood cancer

Med Pediatr Oncol. 2000 Jul;35(1):52-63. doi: 10.1002/1096-911x(200007)35:1<52::aid-mpo9>3.0.co;2-y.


Background: Insofar as a majority of children with malignant diseases are cured, the late effects of treatment are of major importance.

Procedure: A retrospective study was conducted of gonadal and sexual function of 77 adult male survivors of childhood malignancies treated and cured at a single center from 1970 to 1989 and followed for a median of 13 years. The study included an interview, physical examination, sperm test, and hormonal analyses.

Results: One-third of the patients were treated for hematological malignancies, one-third for CNS tumors, and one-third for other malignancies. Eleven patients required androgen substitution after treatment for tumors of the pituitary-hypothalamic region or acute lymphoblastic leukemia including testicular irradiation and/or orchiectomy. In three patients the testicles were removed. The other eight had small testicles, and those providing sperm samples had azoospermia, and sexual function was disturbed in most of them. Most of the remaining 66 patients had small testicles. Normozoospermia was found in 63%, oligozoospermia in 20%, and azoospermia in 17%. Although there was a highly significant correlation between testicular volume and sperm test, 25% of patients with testicles of <10 ml had normozoospermia. Sexual function was normal in 46 patients, and they were married at a frequency comparable to the normal population. Twenty-one patients had no signs of gonadal dysfunction.

Conclusions: Patients treated for tumors in the hypothalamic-pituitary region or treated with testicular irradiation or with high doses of alkylating agents had severe gonadal and sexual dysfunction. Most of the other patients had good prospects for preserved gonadal and sexual function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Androgens / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects*
  • Body Constitution
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / blood
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Registries
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sexuality* / drug effects
  • Sexuality* / radiation effects
  • Sperm Count / drug effects
  • Sperm Count / radiation effects
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survivors
  • Sweden
  • Testicular Diseases / etiology
  • Testicular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Testis / drug effects*
  • Testis / physiopathology
  • Testis / radiation effects*


  • Androgens
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones