Can our child have children of his/her own later on?

Author:  Gesche Tallen, MD, PhD, Editor:  Maria Yiallouros, Reviewer:  Prof. Dr. med. Ursula Creutzig, English Translation:  Hannah McRae, Last modification: 2020/05/15

This question applies to both girls and boys, as chemotherapy and radiation therapy may affect fertility adversely in the long-term.

Some of the cytostatic drugs used in the treatment of cancer as well as some forms of radiotherapy can have a damaging effect on sperm and eggs and the reproductive organs.

Male germ cells are usually more susceptible to becoming infertile than female germ cells, because girls are born with all of their eggs, while boys only start to produce sperm when they reach puberty. At this time, the cells are constantly dividing, which makes them more sensitive to external influences. Therefore, chemo- and radiotherapy are typically less damaging when received before puberty rather than during or after puberty. Overall, it is hard to predict how a patient will individually react to treatment.

For male adolescents, to collect and freeze sperm (cryopreservation) prior to treatment may be an option. More methods for protection of the reproductive system, also for female patients as well as for prepubescent children, are currently under investigation.