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Am J Med. 1982 Oct;73(4):482-6.

Testicular dysfunction in untreated Hodgkin's disease.


Gonadal function was examined in 19 young men with Hodgkin's disease before therapy and compared with that of 11 men with other malignancies, 13 men with primary testicular failure, and 19 normal men of similar age. Total (p less than 0.01) and free (p less than 0.05) testosterone levels were decreased in Hodgkin's disease. In those with advanced (stage III + IV) and symptomatic (B), Hodgkin's disease serum testosterone levels were indistinguishable from those in primary testicular failure, yet serum levels of luteinizing hormone were normal. Moreover, the acute response of serum testosterone to exogenous human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) was significantly greater in Hodgkin's disease than in primary testicular failure (p less than 0.03). These data and the finding that basal serum follicle-stimulating hormone levels are significantly lower than normal in Hodgkin's disease (p less than 0.05) suggest that the cause of pretreatment hypogonadism in Hodgkin's disease is not simple primary testicular failure. Total sperm count was decreased in 40 percent of men with Hodgkin's disease but in none of the men with other malignancies (p less than 0.05), suggesting specific seminiferous tubular dysfunction in Hodgkin's disease. However, motility was abnormal in 69 percent of men with Hodgkin's disease and 60 percent of those with other malignancies, suggesting that this is a nonspecific effect of cancer. Serum prolactin levels were significantly higher than normal in Hodgkin's disease (p less than 0.05) but not in other malignancies. Our findings suggests that the cause of testicular dysfunction that is present before treatment of Hodgkin's disease is complex, perhaps involving both pituitary and gonadal abnormalities.

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