Sperm banks give cancer patients options for family planning as they go through treatment

Medical Watch

Testicular cancer tends to occur in younger men between the ages of 20 and 40, and while doctors say it’s highly curable the prognosis can be more complicated for some patients.

Kevin Hull was a young father who wanted a second child with his wife Kirsten, until he received a diagnosis that threatened his dream of growing his family.

Hull visited a doctor to have them examine a painless lump, the most common sign of testicular cancer. Unfortunately, while it is rare overall, Kevin was one of the unique situations where he had bilateral cancer meaning he had tumors in both of his testicles.

“Getting diagnosed was a real significant moment not only because of what was happening to me but who else was going to be impacted,” Hull said.

The news was even worse; his tumor had already spread.

“They confirmed that I had cancer up in my abdomen, so I was going to face multiple surgeries and likely I was going to face chemotherapy,” he remembers.

That meant consulting a cancer fertility specialist to bank sperm for future use.

“We had to navigate within the whole process of his diagnosis and treatment, how we could treat his cancer effectively and also maintain his quality of life in terms of fathering future children,” said Northwestern Medicine’s Dr. Shilajit Kundu.

Kevin and his wife Kristen decided to store whatever sperm they could so that they could plan for their family later.

As Kirsten underwent the in-vitro fertilization process, Kevin had multiple surgeries to rid his body of cancer, including the removal of lymph nodes in his abdomen.

“It was such a joy to know that even though we had gone through such a dark time in our lives with whatKevin was going through, that we were still going to be able to grow our family and still have the chance to have her have a younger brother or sister,” Kristen Hull said.

Their son Oscar arrived one year later, as Kevin ended his cancer course.

“Not only did we conquer cancer but now we welcomed our second child,” he said.

Kevin now serves as a mentor to others facing a similar diagnosis.

“We didn’t catch it early, unfortunately, but it goes to show you can successfully treat patients with advanced testicular cancer very successfully with high rates of cure,” Dr. Kundu said.

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