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Infertility after testicular cancer

When he was 20, Matt Wakefield's world was turned upside down following a diagnosis of testicular cancer. Matt had been warned that he may be infertile after cancer treatment. This is his story.

I hadn’t even heard of testicular cancer

I noticed a small lump on my left testicle in October 1999. I thought it a bit odd, but wasn’t worried about it. Over the next 8 months it gradually got bigger and started to ache so I went to my GP and was referred to hospital straight away.

The specialist told me they thought I had testicular cancer and had to have my testicle removed. I don’t remember much of what was said as I was in shock and thought I was going to die. I didn’t even think about the operation – I just wanted the cancer out!

Infertile

After surgery, I was told I had a type of testicular cancer called seminoma and needed radiotherapy to reduce the chance of the cancer coming back. My doctor advised me to bank some sperm as my fertility might be affected. I hadn’t really thought about having children before, but decided sperm banking would be a good idea. I felt a bit anxious about this, but the doctors helped put me at ease. I had to go to a different hospital twice in one week as I was told I needed to give 2 samples.

My treatment had no affect on my sex life, but some years later, when my fiancée Corinne and I decided we would like to have a family, I discovered it had affected my fertility. Although devastated, I was relieved that I had banked sperm before my treatment.

IVF twins

We thought about our options and decided to go ahead with IVF (in vitro fertilisation). This meant Corinne had to inject herself daily for a few weeks with fertility drugs. The resulting eggs were then mixed with some of my banked sperm and a couple of the fertilised cells (embryos) were transferred back to Corinne.

It was an anxious wait but fortunately for us it worked first time, and in 2008 Corinne gave birth to twins, Samuel and Bethany. They are a delight although they keep our hands full!

Matt Wakefield with his family

Raising awareness

I had regular follow up appointments after my treatment, and after 5 years was told I no longer needed to see the doctors, which was a huge relief. I now do a lot to try and raise awareness of cancer. I would encourage men to be aware of testicular cancer symptoms, check themselves regularly and go to their doctor if they notice anything unusual. Although most symptoms are unlikely to be caused by testicular cancer, it is sensible to get checked out to be on the safe side.

Factfile

  • Around 2,100 cases of testicular cancer are diagnosed in the UK each year
  • Although testicular cancer is relatively rare, it is the most common cancer in men aged between 15 and 45
  • There are 2 main types of testicular cancer – seminoma and non seminoma
  • The outlook for testicular cancer is one of the best for all cancers - most men are cured
  • Treatment depends on the type of testicular cancer and how far it has grown, and can include surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy

More information

Cancer Research UK's testicular cancer awareness leaflet includes information on spotting cancer early and how to check yourself.

On CancerHelp UK there is more information about

Sharing your story

The Your tips and stories section of CancerHelp UK provides tips and support for people currently coping with cancer and treatment. You can use the Your tips and stories contribution form to tell us how you coped, so that other people with cancer, or their families, can gain help and support from your stories.

Some people help Cancer Research UK by sharing their stories in other ways – talking to the media, appearing in a Cancer Research UK advert, speaking to volunteers or being featured on our website. Read more about sharing your story.

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Updated: 25 May 2010