Improving Male Reproductive Health After Childhood, Adolescent, and Young Adult Cancer: Progress and Future Directions for Survivorship Research

J Clin Oncol. 2018 Jul 20;36(21):2160-2168. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2017.76.3839. Epub 2018 Jun 6.


Reproductive health is a common concern and often a source of distress for male childhood, adolescent, and young adult cancer survivors. Clinical and epidemiologic research in survivor populations has identified alkylating agent chemotherapy, testicular radiation, and surgery or radiation to the genitourinary organs, lower spine, or the hypothalamic-pituitary region as risk factors for adverse reproductive outcomes, including impaired spermatogenesis, testosterone insufficiency, and sexual dysfunction. Much of the research on male survivors has focused on the outcome of fertility, using spermatogenesis, serum gonadotropins, and paternity as the measures. However, these studies often fail to account for the clinically relevant but difficult-to-quantify aspects of fertility such as sexual function, cancer-related delayed psychosocial development, medical comorbidities, and socioeconomic concerns. Clinical and basic science research has made significant contributions to improving reproductive outcomes for survivors, with recent advancements in the areas of fertility preservation, clinical assessment of reproductive function, and treatment of adverse reproductive outcomes. Furthermore, there is an emerging qualitative literature addressing the psychosexual aspects of male reproductive health, the clinical application of which will improve quality of life for survivors. This review summarizes the current survivorship literature on reproductive health outcomes for male survivors, including the epidemiology of impaired spermatogenesis, testosterone insufficiency, and sexual dysfunction; clinical and laboratory assessment of reproductive function; and established and investigational interventions to preserve reproductive function for patients newly diagnosed and survivors. Although survivorship research has made significant contributions to improving reproductive outcomes, additional scientific progress is needed in the areas of fertility preservation, risk assessment, and psychosexual support with the aim of optimizing reproductive health for current and future survivors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cancer Survivors*
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Male / etiology*
  • Infertility, Male / therapy*
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Reproductive Health
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / etiology*
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / therapy*
  • Young Adult