Men's health

Male cancer patients denied sperm banking

Male cancer patients denied sperm banking Ignorance rife

Many men undergoing cancer treatment which could affect their fertility are not being offered the chance to store their sperm, researchers have warned.

In a survey of nearly 500 clinicians, researchers found that around one in five doctors were unaware of any local policies on sperm banking.

Guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) say that all men or adolescent boys receiving cancer treatment that may lead to infertility should be offered the opportunity to bank their sperm.

Researchers at the University of Warwick and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust also found that only half of oncologists and haematologists across the UK agreed that information on sperm banking is readily available to patients.

Study author Dr Ann Adams, from Warwick Medical School, said: "Our findings are very concerning and show that doctors in the UK aren't following sperm banking guidance, meaning many men are missing the opportunity to store their sperm for the future.

"Instead it appears that clinicians are deciding who is offered the chance to bank sperm based on their own personal beliefs, attitudes and assumptions about their patients' likelihood of starting a family in the future.

"Doctors know that many chemotherapy drugs can cause problems with fertility, so it's vital that all teenagers and men of any age who may want to start a family in the future are given the chance to bank their sperm."

Professor Geraldine Hartshorne, also from Warwick Medical School, added: "We're urging clinicians to discuss sperm banking with all their male cancer patients. Improved awareness and access to training for clinicians would hopefully increase both the opportunity and the uptake of sperm banking for cancer patients."

This article was published on Thu 28 October 2010

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