Prostate Cancer – Testosterone

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Testosterone deficiency syndrome: treatment and cancer risk

            (Raynaud 2009) Download

Testosterone deficiency syndrome (TDS) can be linked to premature mortality and to a number of co-morbidities (such as sexual disorders, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, ...). Testosterone deficiency occurs mainly in ageing men, at a time when prostate disease (benign or malign) start to emerge. New testosterone preparations via different route of administration appeared during the last decade allowing optimized treatment to these patients. One potential complication of this treatment is the increased risk of prostate and breast cancer. Consequently, the guidelines from the agencies and the institutions, the recommendations of the scientific expert committees and the attitude of the clinicians to who, when and how to treat hypogonadal patients, is very conservative, not to say, highly restrictive. To date, as documented in many reviews on the subject, nothing has been found to support the evidence that restoring testosterone levels within normal range increases the incidence of prostate cancer. In our experience, during a long-term clinical study including 200 hypogonadal patients receiving a patch of testosterone, 50 patients ended 5 years of treatment and no prostate cancer have been reported. In fact, the incidence of prostate cancer in primary or secondary testosterone treated hypogonadal men is lower than the incidence observed in the untreated eugonadal population. However, even if the number of patients treated in well-conducted clinical trials for whom cancer of the prostate has been reported is insignificant (a very few), the observed population is still too small to raise definite conclusions. Low testosterone levels have been reported in patients undergoing radical prostatectomy and the outcomes are of worse diagnostic in this population; at a later stage, testosterone deficiency can be induced by anti hormonal manipulation of patient with a prostate cancer, leading to the symptoms of hypogonadism. The question is to know whether it is justified, in case of profound symptoms, to supplement those patients with testosterone. Some attempts have been made and the results are encouraging: so it is time to re-examine our position and to question about the definite recommendation that patients with prostate cancer should never receive testosterone supplementation therapy; this is already the situation when intermittent androgen blockade is initiated if the biological response is satisfactory. Furthermore, it has been advocated that, under a rigorous surveillance, patients cured of prostate cancer can be treated with testosterone supplementation with beneficial results.


Serum testosterone and the risk of prostate cancer: potential implications for testosterone therapy

            (Parsons, Carter et al. 2005) Download

OBJECTIVE: A potential risk of testosterone replacement therapy is an increase in the incidence of prostate cancer, but it is unclear whether higher levels of serum testosterone are associated with a higher risk of prostate cancer. We prospectively evaluated serum androgen concentrations and prostate cancer risk. METHOD: Included were 794 members of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. We estimated the rate ratio (RR) of prostate cancer by entering serial measures of serum total testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, sex hormone binding globulin, calculated free testosterone, and free testosterone index (FTI) into a Cox proportional hazards regression model with simple updating. RESULTS: Higher calculated free testosterone was associated with an increased age-adjusted risk of prostate cancer {RRs by quartile: 1.00, 1.52 [95% confidence interval (95% CI), 0.93-2.50], 1.16 (95% CI, 0.61-2.20), 2.59 (95% CI, 1.28-5.25); P(trend) = 0.03}, which persisted after excluding measures in men <45 years of age [RRs by quartile: 1.00, 1.33 (95% CI, 0.78-2.25), 1.26 (95% CI, 0.68-2.33), 1.89 (95% CI, 0.99-3.61); P(trend) = 0.03]. Compared to men with eugonadal FTI (> or = 0.153), men with hypogonadal FTI had a decreased risk of prostate cancer (RR, 0.51; 95% CI, 0.31-0.82). CONCLUSION: Higher levels of calculated serum free testosterone are associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer. These findings suggest that men receiving testosterone therapy should be regularly monitored for prostate cancer and underscore the need for prospective trials of testosterone therapy incorporating incidence of prostate cancer as a primary safety end point.


High levels of circulating testosterone are not associated with increased prostate cancer risk: a pooled prospective study

            (Stattin, Lumme et al. 2004) Download

Androgens stimulate prostate cancer in vitro and in vivo. However, evidence from epidemiologic studies of an association between circulating levels of androgens and prostate cancer risk has been inconsistent. We investigated the association of serum levels of testosterone, the principal androgen in circulation, and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) with risk in a case-control study nested in cohorts in Finland, Norway and Sweden of 708 men who were diagnosed with prostate cancer after blood collection and among 2,242 men who were not. In conditional logistic regression analyses, modest but significant decreases in risk were seen for increasing levels of total testosterone down to odds ratio for top vs. bottom quintile of 0.80 (95% CI = 0.59-1.06; p(trend) = 0.05); for SHBG, the corresponding odds ratio was 0.76 (95% CI = 0.57-1.01; p(trend) = 0.07). For free testosterone, calculated from total testosterone and SHBG, a bell-shaped risk pattern was seen with a decrease in odds ratio for top vs. bottom quintile of 0.82 (95% CI = 0.60-1.14; p(trend) = 0.44). No support was found for the hypothesis that high levels of circulating androgens within a physiologic range stimulate development and growth of prostate cancer.



Parsons, J. K., H. B. Carter, et al. (2005). "Serum testosterone and the risk of prostate cancer: potential implications for testosterone therapy." Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 14(9): 2257-60.

Raynaud, J. P. (2009). "Testosterone deficiency syndrome: treatment and cancer risk." J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 114(1-2): 96-105.

Stattin, P., S. Lumme, et al. (2004). "High levels of circulating testosterone are not associated with increased prostate cancer risk: a pooled prospective study." Int J Cancer 108(3): 418-24.