Sperm DNA Damage in Cancer Patients

  • Hermance Beaud
  • Amelie R. Tremblay
  • Peter T. K. Chan
  • Geraldine DelbesEmail author
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 1166)


Fertility is a growing healthcare issue for a rising number of cancer survivors. In men, cancer itself and its treatment can negatively affect spermatogenesis by targeting the dividing spermatogonia and their cellular environment, ultimately leading to a reduction of testicular germ cells and sperm count. Experimental data and prospective longitudinal studies have shown that sperm production can recover after cancer treatment. But despite this, yet unpredictable, recovery in sperm production, cancer survivors are more at risk to produce sperm with aneuploidy, DNA damage, abnormal chromatin structure, and epigenetic defects even 2 years post-treatment. Sperm DNA alteration is of clinical concern, as these patients may father children or seek assisted reproduction technologies (ART) using gametes with damaged genome that could result in adverse progeny outcomes. Interestingly, large cohort studies revealed lower birth rate but no significant impact on the health of the children born from male cancer survivors (naturally or using ART). Nevertheless, a better understanding of how cocktail of chemotherapy and new anticancer agents affect spermatogenesis and sperm quality is needed to reduce side effects. Moreover, developing new fertility preservation strategies is essential as sperm cryopreservation before treatment is currently the only option but does not apply for prepubertal/young postpubertal patients.


Cancer Chemotherapy Fertility Progeny Radiotherapy Sperm chromatin Sperm DNA Sperm epigenome 



Assisted reproductive technologies


Cyclophosphamide equivalent dose


DNA fragmentation index


High DNA stainability


Sperm chromatin structure assay


Spermatogonial stem cells


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hermance Beaud
    • 1
  • Amelie R. Tremblay
    • 1
  • Peter T. K. Chan
    • 2
  • Geraldine Delbes
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Institut national de la recherche scientifique, Centre INRS – Institut Armand-FrappierQCCanada
  2. 2.Division of UrologyMcGill University Health CenterQCCanada

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