Androgens and liver tumors: Fanconi's anemia and non-Fanconi's conditions

Am J Hematol. 2004 Nov;77(3):257-67. doi: 10.1002/ajh.20183.


The association between anabolic androgenic steroids and liver tumors was first noted in patients with Fanconi's anemia (FA). The hypotheses which led to this review were as follows: (1) androgen-treated individuals who do not have FA are also at risk of liver tumors; (2) parenteral as well as oral androgens may be responsible for liver tumors; (3) FA patients develop liver tumors after smaller and briefer androgen exposure than non-FA individuals; (4) the risk of hepatic neoplasms may depend on the specific androgen. Medline and Web of Science were searched for all cases of liver tumors associated with androgens. Information from individual cases was entered into a spreadsheet and descriptive statistical analyses were performed. Thirty-six FA cases and 97 non-FA cases with both nonhematologic disorders and acquired aplastic anemia (non-FA AA) were identified. The most common androgens were oxymetholone, methyltestosterone, and danazol. Hepatocellular carcinomas (HCC) were more often associated with oxymetholone and methyltestosterone, while adenomas were associated with danazol. Tumors were reported in six patients who received only parenteral and not oral androgens. FA patients were younger than non-FA patients when androgen use was initiated, and the FA patients developed tumors at younger ages. Non-AA patients were treated with androgens for longer periods of time, compared with FA and non-FA AA patients. All patients on anabolic androgenic steroids are at risk of liver tumors, regardless of underlying diagnosis. The magnitude of the risk cannot be determined from currently available data, because the number of patients receiving androgens is unknown.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma, Liver Cell / chemically induced*
  • Adenoma, Liver Cell / pathology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anabolic Agents / adverse effects
  • Androgens / adverse effects*
  • Anemia, Aplastic / complications
  • Anemia, Aplastic / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / chemically induced*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology
  • Danazol / adverse effects
  • Estrogen Antagonists / adverse effects
  • Fanconi Anemia / complications
  • Fanconi Anemia / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Methyltestosterone / adverse effects
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent / chemically induced
  • Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent / pathology
  • Oxymetholone / adverse effects
  • Risk Factors


  • Anabolic Agents
  • Androgens
  • Estrogen Antagonists
  • Oxymetholone
  • Danazol
  • Methyltestosterone