The effect of testosterone replacement therapy on prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels in men being treated for hypogonadism: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Medicine (Baltimore). 2015 Jan;94(3):e410. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000000410.


Testosterone replacement therapy is used for the treatment of age-related male hypogonadism, and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a primary screening tool for prostate cancer. The systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to determine the effect of testosterone replacement therapy on PSA levels.Medline, Cochrane Library, EMBASE, and Google Scholar databases were searched until February 28, 2014, and inclusion criteria were as follows: randomized controlled trial; intervention group received testosterone/androgen replacement therapy; control group did not receive treatment; and no history of prostate cancer. The primary outcome was change of PSA level between before and after treatment. Secondary outcomes were elevated PSA level after treatment, and the number of patients who developed prostate cancer.After initially identifying 511 articles, 15 studies with a total of 739 patients that received testosterone replacement and 385 controls were included. The duration of treatment ranged from 3 to 12 months. Patients treated with testosterone tended to have higher PSA levels, and thus a greater change than those that received control treatments (difference in means of PSA levels = 0.154, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.069 to 0.238, P < 0.001). The difference in means of PSA levels were significant higher for patients that received testosterone intramuscularly (IM) than controls (difference in means of PSA levels = 0.271, 95% CI 0.117-0.425, P = 0.001). Elevated PSA levels after treatment were similar between patients that received treatment and controls (odds ratio [OR] = 1.02, 95% CI 0.48-2.20, P = 0.953). Only 3 studies provided data with respect to the development of prostate cancer, and rates were similar between those that received treatment and controls.Testosterone replacement therapy does not increase PSA levels in men being treated for hypogonadism, except when it is given IM and even the increase with IM administration is minimal.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Administration, Oral
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Eunuchism / blood*
  • Eunuchism / drug therapy*
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intramuscular
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / blood*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Testosterone / administration & dosage
  • Testosterone / therapeutic use*
  • Young Adult


  • Testosterone
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen