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J Cell Biochem. 2020 Apr;121(4):2756-2769. doi: 10.1002/jcb.29515. Epub 2019 Nov 6.

Comparison of the roles of estrogens and androgens in breast cancer and prostate cancer.

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Institute for Special Environmental Biophysics, Key Laboratory for Space Bioscience and Biotechnology, School of Life Sciences, Northwestern Polytechnical University, Xi'an, Shaanxi, China.
Breast Surgery, The First Hospital of Jilin University, Changchun, Jilin, China.
Department of Molecular Medicine, Laboratory of Molecular Endocrinology and Oncology, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Québec Research Centre (CHUQ, CHUL), Laval University, Québec, Canada.


Breast cancer (BC) and prostate cancer (PC) are the second most common malignant tumors in women and men in western countries, respectively. The risks of death are 14% for BC and 9% for PC. Abnormal estrogen and androgen levels are related to carcinogenesis of the breast and prostate. Estradiol stimulates cancer development in BC. The effect of estrogen on PC is concentration-dependent, and estrogen can regulate androgen production, further affecting PC. Estrogen can also increase the risk of androgen-induced PC. Androgen has dual effects on BC via different metabolic pathways, and the role of the androgen receptor (AR) in BC also depends on cell subtype and downstream target genes. Androgen and AR can stimulate both primary PC and castration-resistant PC. Understanding the mechanisms of the effects of estrogen and androgen on BC and PC may help us to improve curative BC and PC treatment strategies.


androgen; breast cancer; estrogen; prostate cancer


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