Drop in testosterone tied to prostate cancer recurrence

October 28, 2012, Fox Chase Cancer Center

Men whose testosterone drops following radiation therapy for prostate cancer are more likely to experience a change in PSA levels that signals their cancer has returned, according to new research from Fox Chase Cancer Center. The findings will be presented on October 29 at the American Society for Radiation Oncology's 54th Annual Meeting.

Specifically, men whose testosterone fell following various forms of radiation therapy were more likely to experience an increase in prostate-specific antigen (PSA)—often the first indication the cancer has recurred.

"The men who had a decrease in testosterone also appear to be the men more likely to see an increase in PSA after treatment," says study author Jeffrey Martin, MD, resident physician in the Department of at Fox Chase.

In theory, doctors may one day be able to use testosterone levels to guide , says Martin. "For men with a decrease in testosterone, doctors might intervene earlier with other medications, or follow their PSA more closely than they would otherwise, to spot recurrences at an earlier time."

Martin and his colleagues decided to conduct the study because there is limited information regarding testosterone levels after and what it means for prognosis. To investigate whether a decrease in testosterone has any clinical effects, Martin and his colleagues reviewed medical records from nearly 260 men who received radiation therapy for prostate cancer between 2002 and 2008. The men were treated with either brachytherapy, in which doctors insert in the prostate, or (IMRT), in which an external beam of radiation is directed at the prostate.

The researchers found that testosterone levels tended to decrease following both forms of radiation therapy. And men who experienced a post-radiation drop in testosterone— particularly a significant drop—were more likely to see their rise during the follow-up period.

Still, an increase in PSA—known as biochemical failure—was relatively rare, the authors found. "Only 4% of patients with low-risk prostate cancer had biochemical failure at five years," says Martin.

Even though researchers have seen testosterone decrease following another form of radiation, these latest findings are still somewhat surprising, says Martin, because testosterone is believed to drive prostate cancer. In fact, some patients with advanced forms are prescribed hormone therapy that attempts to knock down testosterone.

"Seeing that a drop in testosterone is tied to recurrence is kind of a surprising result," says Martin. "We don't necessarily know what this means yet. I think the relationship between testosterone levels following and prognosis needs more study, and until then it's premature to say this is something patients should ask their doctors about."

This was a small study that needs to be validated in a larger group of men before doctors begin basing their predictions of recurrence on patients' , he cautions. "I think the link between testosterone and PSA needs more study, in a larger set of patients."

Explore further: Testosterone therapy does not up prostate cancer incidence

Related Stories

Testosterone therapy does not up prostate cancer incidence

June 15, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) appears to be safe and does not increase the incidence of prostate cancer, according to a study published online June 6 in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Study suggests another look at testosterone-prostate cancer link

April 19, 2011
The long-standing prohibition against testosterone therapy in men with untreated or low-risk prostate cancer merits reevaluation, according to a new study published in The Journal of Urology.

More testosterone increases prostate cancer risk in older men: study

July 26, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Older men - those in their 70s and 80s - with higher levels of testosterone, including those who undergo hormone replacement therapy, are at an increased risk of prostate cancer, according to new research.  

Study refutes testosterone as 'fountain of youth'

October 21, 2011
A new study of older Western Australian men has revealed that testosterone might not be the fountain of youth.

Recommended for you

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

January 18, 2018
Cancer metastasis, the migration of cells from a primary tumor to form distant tumors in the body, can be triggered by a chronic leakage of DNA within tumor cells, according to a team led by Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial ...

Modular gene enhancer promotes leukemia and regulates effectiveness of chemotherapy

January 18, 2018
Every day, billions of new blood cells are generated in the bone marrow. The gene Myc is known to play an important role in this process, and is also known to play a role in cancer. Scientists from the German Cancer Research ...

These foods may up your odds for colon cancer

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—Chowing down on red meat, white bread and sugar-laden drinks might increase your long-term risk of colon cancer, a new study suggests.

The pill lowers ovarian cancer risk, even for smokers

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—It's known that use of the birth control pill is tied to lower odds for ovarian cancer, but new research shows the benefit extends to smokers or women who are obese.

Researchers develop swallowable test to detect pre-cancerous Barrett's esophagus

January 17, 2018
Investigators at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center have developed a simple, swallowable test for early detection of Barrett's esophagus that offers promise ...

Scientists zoom in to watch DNA code being read

January 17, 2018
Scientists have unveiled incredible images of how the DNA code is read and interpreted—revealing new detail about one of the fundamental processes of life.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.