Male survivors of childhood cancer, who were previously considered to be sterile, have shown some improvements in their fertility with help from a surgical technique.
Known as microdissection testicular sperm extraction, the method is able to effectively locate and extract viable sperm in more than one-third of adult male childhood cancer survivors who were thought to have lost their fertility due to chemotherapy.
Following the treatment, many of the men were able to father children with the help of in vitro fertilisation.
The research was led by Peter Schlegel, chairman of the Department of Urology at Weill Cornell Medical College.
Dr Schlegel commented: "When we started this study, we thought sperm retrieval rates would be close to zero among the group of cancer survivors, but we were surprised to discover that in many cases small areas of testicular tissue survived and resumed sperm production over a period of several years.
"Even in this situation where we thought sperm production had ceased, there still may be an opportunity for fertility with the use of assisted reproductive techniques like this one."