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Cancer Lett. 2002 Dec 10;187(1-2):1-7.

The role of androgens and the androgen receptor in prostate cancer.

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  • 1Department of Urology, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.


Prostate cancer (PCa) is the leading diagnosed malignancy in men in western countries. The relationship between androgens and the androgen receptor (AR) has been studied extensively in PCa. Plasma levels of androgens show variations between different populations, and in many cases this correlates with PCa susceptibility. Indeed, exposure of the fetus to higher androgen concentrations appears to be a risk factor for PCa. The AR is present in the majority of PCa, and its activation by androgens leads to different proliferative, apoptotic and angiogenic events. These events are in turn mediated by dysregulation of cyclin-dependent kinases, apoptotic factors and even mutations in the AR. Although androgen ablation has been the mainstay non-surgical treatment for this disease, most tumors will eventually become refractory to treatment. Different cellular mechanisms appear to be involved in the androgen-independent progression of PCa, including cytokine and growth factor-mediated activation of the AR as well as neuroendocrine differentiation. Thus, an understanding of the cellular mechanisms involved in androgen action may lead to better therapeutic targets for PCa.

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