Rapid advancements of assisted reproductive technologies have greatly enhanced the chances for men undergoing cancer treatment or other therapies that result in sterility, to father their own biological children. Cryopreserved specimens, when properly stored, will remain viable for almost an indefinite period of time. Pregnancies have been reported for cases in which the sperm has been stored for 20 years prior to thawing and insemination.
Cryopreservation is the process of freezing tissues or cells, and maintaining them at extremely low temperatures for future use. The technique has undergone important advances since the first births using frozen sperm occurred in the early 1950s. Samples are mixed with media that minimizes damage during freezing and thawing, placed in special vials and carefully frozen in liquid nitrogen vapor. They are then stored in liquid nitrogen in securely monitored tanks at a temperature of -196°C (-320°F). Sperm cryopreservation has revolutionized the field of assisted reproduction. It has allowed men whose fertility may be jeopardized to protect their potential to father children.
sperm storage for the cancer patient
Cancer patients survive at increasing rates, but successful treatment often leads to reduced fertility or sterility. The testes are highly susceptible to the toxic effects of radiation and chemotherapy at all stages of life. For the best possible outcome it’s important that physicians consult with cancer patients about options for fertility preservation prior to treatment. Oncologists have traditionally been focused on the most effective treatment in order to prolong life. But with the growing number of cancer survivors, much attention is being focused on their quality of life–the physical, social, psychological and spiritual issues they face. Surveys of cancer patients reveal a very strong desire to be informed of available options for future reproduction.
Collection and Storage
On site, at home, or in your room, our lab will work with you in order to obtain a specimen of maximum quality and quantity for freezing. It is recommended that patients abstain from any ejaculation or emission for at least three days– but not more than ten days–prior to collection. Semen depositors can make an appointment during regular business hours, Monday through Friday. Our courteous, professional staff will walk you or a loved one through the necessary forms and provide facilities for your sample collection via self-masturbation. In any emergency situation regarding your diagnosis and treatment, please contact us to see how we can help. Customer care is our first consideration.
Pre- and post-freeze analysis
As standard procedure, a pre-freeze semen analysis is performed to document each sample’s quality. This analysis will determine the count and motility (activity) of the sperm. The next day we perform a post-thaw specimen analysis to determine the quality of a thawed specimen. This allows us to place into cryostorage only those specimens that demonstrate viable sperm cells. Based on this analysis our technicians will consult with you on future plans to optimize the samples required.
• Samples are protected from freeze damage with carefully calculated amounts of cryopreservation solution.
• Treated semen is divided into precise portions and sealed into vials.
• Vials are quickly frozen by vapor and stored in liquid nitrogen.
• A separate portion of the specimen is then thawed for complete post-thaw analysis.
Infectious disease screening
Sperm banking for future use requires testing for infectious and sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) such as HIV and hepatitis. Clients may elect to have these tests performed here, or have blood drawn and tested by another laboratory or physician. Proof of results needs to be provided within 14 days of the time of first deposit. Testing* includes all of the following (*Testing subject to change without notice):
• HIV 1 & 2 (AIDS) Antibody
• HIV 1 NAT (Nucleic Acid Test)
• Hepatitis B Surface Antigen
• Hepatitis B Core Antibody
• Hepatitis C Viral Antibody
• HLTV I, II Antibody (an immunodeficiency disease)
In strict compliance with industry standards, separate biohazardous storage is maintained for specimens which have tested positive for STDs. This special storage incurs additional fees.
regional freezing center
In addition to the initial shock of the diagnosis of cancer, a patient is faced with the decision to freeze his sperm to preserve his fertility. One of the problems faced by the patient is locating a nearby clinic that can freeze and store his specimens prior to beginning treatment. This program is designed to aid the recently diagnosed cancer patient with locating a nearby laboratory (ART Clinic, Andrology Laboratory) where he can have his sperm frozen prior to beginning chemotherapy or radiation treatment.
The Fertility Center at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pennsylvania is working in conjunction with Fairfax Cryobank to meet these needs for patients in Central, Northern and Northeastern Pennsylvania. The Fairfax Cryobank and the Fertility Center at Geisinger Medical Center have worked out an arrangement where your patients are able to have their specimen collected and frozen locally in Danville and stored long term in Fairfax, VA.
To help you give this your utmost consideration prior to commencing treatment, please download the patient education pamphlet on sperm banking. If you are interested in participating in this program and would like additional information, please contact The Fertility Center at Geisinger Medical Center at (570) 271-5620.
What is involved?
Patients desiring our services should call (570) 271-5620 for information. We understand the urgency of beginning cancer treatment as soon as possible; therefore, we are able to schedule all patient appointments within 1 to 3 days of the initial call, or, in an emergency, even on the same day. If possible, it is advantageous for patients to bank all semen specimens prior to beginning their chemotherapy or radiation treatment.
Patients are asked to have abstained from all sexual activity for at least 1 to 3 days prior to the appointment and to have had at least one ejaculation within the last 5-10 days. This should allow for the best possible specimen to be produced on the day of the appointment.
All patients are required to have current infectious disease testing completed within the last 30 days or have their blood drawn for the tests at the time of the appointment. (NOTE: Patients who have had the test completed within the last 30 days must bring a copy of the test report with them to the appointment or the patient's blood will be drawn and the test rerun.)
With the availability of advanced reproductive techniques such as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), most patients will require only one collection.
Sperm Banking Handbook
Please download the Sperm Banking handbook (.pdf).
Education for Fertility Patients
Learn more about fertility procedures and treatment options.
For more information about treatment options
|The Fertility Center|
Geisinger Medical Center Women's Pavilion
Danville, Pennsylvania 17822-2920
|Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center|
Valley Medical Building
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702