Objectives: There is evidence that androgens are breast protective and that testosterone therapy treats many symptoms of hormone deficiency in both pre and postmenopausal patients. However, unlike estrogen and progestins, there is a paucity of data regarding the incidence of breast cancer in women treated with testosterone therapy. This study was designed to investigate the incidence of breast cancer in women treated with subcutaneous testosterone therapy in the absence of systemic estrogen therapy.
Study design: This is a 5-year interim analysis of a 10-year, prospective, observational, IRB approved study investigating the incidence of breast cancer in women presenting with symptoms of hormone deficiency treated with subcutaneous testosterone (T) implants or, T combined with the aromatase inhibitor anastrozole (A), i.e., T+A implants. Breast cancer incidence was compared with that of historical controls reported in the literature, age specific Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) incidence rates, and a representative, similar age group of our patients used as a 'control' group. The effect of adherence to T therapy was also evaluated.
Results: Since March 2008, 1268 pre and post menopausal women have been enrolled in the study and eligible for analysis. As of March 2013, there have been 8 cases of invasive breast cancer diagnosed in 5642 person-years of follow up for an incidence of 142 cases per 100000 person-years, substantially less than the age-specific SEER incidence rates (293/100000), placebo arm of Women's Health Initiative Study (300/100000), never users of hormone therapy from the Million Women Study (325/100000) and our control group (390/100000). Unlike adherence to estrogen therapy, adherence to T therapy further decreased the incidence of breast cancer (73/100000).
Conclusion: T and/or T+A, delivered subcutaneously as a pellet implant, reduced the incidence of breast cancer in pre and postmenopausal women. Evidence supports that breast cancer is preventable by maintaining a T to estrogen ratio in favor of T and, in particular, by the use of continuous T or, when indicated, T+A. This hormone therapy should be further investigated for the prevention and treatment of breast cancer.
Keywords: Anastrozole; Breast cancer; Implants; Prevention; Testosterone.
Copyright © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd.. All rights reserved.