Current literature suggests testicular cancer has the most significant impact on sperm concentration and motility, prior to cryopreservation. Limited data is available on semen quality in oncology patients post-cryopreservation, despite its clinical relevance in determining ART treatment suitability. Aim: To evaluate pre and post-cryopreservation sperm parameters in cancer patients.
Retrospective data from 337 oncology patients undergoing sperm cryopreservation from a UK IVF clinic was collected between July 2013 and May 2021. Age (years), abstinence period (days), pre-freeze and post-thaw sperm motility (%), pre-freeze and post-thaw sperm concentration (M/ml), post-thaw motile concentration (M/ml) and sperm survival rate (%) were assessed. Patients undergoing cancer treatment, patients under 18 years-old, and patients with an abstinence period outside 2-5 days were excluded. Patients were grouped according to cancer diagnosis: blood cancers (n=58), male cancers (n=189) and solid cancers (n=90). Data was analysed using One-Way ANOVAs with post-hoc Tukey’s tests, if significant differences were detected (p<0.05).
No significant differences in pre-freeze progressive sperm motility (% a+b) (p>0.05) and pre-freeze total sperm motility (% a+b+c) (p=0.067) were detected. Similarly, no significant differences were observed in post-thaw progressive sperm motility (p>0.05), post-thaw total motility (p=0.057) and sperm survival rate (p<0.05). Patients with male cancers had significantly reduced pre and post-cryopreservation sperm concentrations compared to those with blood cancers (p=0.038) and solid cancers (p>0.0001). Post-thaw motile sperm concentration was significantly reduced in male cancers, compared to solid cancers (p=0.005).
Preliminary data analysis suggests neither sperm motility nor sperm survival rates vary significantly between different cancer types. However, patients with male cancers had significantly reduced pre-freeze and post-thaw sperm concentrations. These findings could benefit patients with male cancers by prioritising fertility preservation referrals. Further research is needed to confirm these findings, as well as additional assessment of sperm vitality post-cryopreservation.