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J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2006 Dec;102(1-5):261-6.

Prostate cancer risk in testosterone-treated men.

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  • 1Universit√© Pierre & Marie Curie, 51 bvd Suchet, Paris 75016, France.


Men with classical androgen deficiency have reduced prostate volume and blood prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels compared with their age peers. As it is plausible that androgen deficiency partially protects against prostate disease, and that restoring androgen exposure increases risk to that of eugonadal men of the same age, men using ART should have age-appropriate surveillance for prostate disease. This should comprise rectal examination and blood PSA measurement at regular intervals (determined by age and family history) according to the recommendations, permanently revisited, published by ISSAM, EAU, Endocrine Society.... Testosterone replacement therapy is now being prescribed more often for aging men, the same population in which prostate cancer incidence increases; it has been suggested that administration in men with unrecognised prostate cancer might promote the development of clinically significant disease. In hypogonadal men who were candidates for testosterone therapy, a 14% incidence of occult cancer was found. A percentage (15.2%) of prostate cancer has been found in the placebo group (with normal DRE and PSA) in the prostate cancer prevention study investigating the chemoprevention potential of finasteride. The hypothesis that high levels of circulating androgens is a risk factor for prostate cancer is supported by the dramatic regression, after castration, of tumour symptoms in men with advanced prostate cancer. However these effects, seen at a very late stage of cancer development, may not be relevant to reflect the effects of variations within a physiological range at an earlier stage. Data from all published prospective studies on circulating level of total and free testosterone do not support the hypothesis that high levels of circulating androgens are associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer. A study on a large prospective cohort of 10,049 men, contributes to the gathering evidence that the long standing "androgen hypothesis" of increasing risk with increasing androgen levels can be rejected, suggesting instead that high levels within the reference range of androgens, estrogens and adrenal androgens decrease aggressive prostate cancer risk. Indeed, high-grade prostate cancer has been associated with low plasma level of testosterone. Furthermore, pre-treatment total testosterone was an independent predictor of extraprostatic disease in patients with localized prostate cancer; as testosterone decreases, patients have an increased likelihood of non-organ confined disease and low serum testosterone levels are associated with positive surgical margins in radical retropubic prostatectomy. A clinical implication of these results concerns androgen supplementation which has become easier to administer with the advent of transdermal preparations (patch or gel) that achieve physiological testosterone serum levels without supra physiological escape levels. During the clinical development of a new testosterone patch in more than 200 primary or secondary hypogonadal patients, no prostate cancer was diagnosed.

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