Background: We assessed sperm DNA fragmentation index (DFI) in cancer patients before and after treatment to evaluate if sperm DNA integrity is compromised by cancer itself or its treatment. Methods: In a prospective study, DFI was assessed in 127 patients diagnosed with testicular germ cell tumours (TGCT), Hodgkin's lymphoma (HL), non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) and various malignancies. The severity of cancer and tumour markers at diagnosis was recorded. Follow-up DFI after treatment was available in 52 patients who were mostly less severely affected. Results: In patients diagnosed with TGCT, HL and various malignancies, pretreatment DFI levels were not significantly different from that of proven fertile controls, but in patients with NHL an increased DFI was found. An overall significant decrease in post-treatment DFI (13.2 range 5.0-70.5) compared with pretreatment values (17.1 range 5.1-66.6) was found (P = 0.040). In TGCT patients, post-treatment DFI was significantly higher in patients who were treated with radiotherapy (16.9 range 11.5-39.9) compared with that in patients treated with chemotherapy (CT) alone (10.9 range 5.5-39.9) (P = 0.037). In HL patients, the type of treatment or number of CT cycles was not associated with DFI. Overall, post-treatment DFI in cancer patients was not significantly different from that of proven fertile controls. Conclusion: SIn this study, the presence of cancer does not seem to negatively affect the sperm DNA integrity in TGCT and HL patients; only NHL patients showed increased DFI at the time of diagnosis compared with healthy controls. Our Results: confirm previous reports that DFI decreases significantly following various anti-cancer treatments. In contrast, radiotherapy in TGCT patients is associated with an increase in DFI compared with CT treatment alone.

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Human Reproduction
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Smit, M, van Casteren, N.J, Wildhagen, M.F, Romijn, J.C, & Dohle, G.R. (2010). Sperm DNA integrity in cancer patients before and after cytotoxic treatment. Human Reproduction, 25(8), 1877–1883. doi:10.1093/humrep/deq104