Context: The use of testosterone therapy in men with prostate cancer was previously contraindicated, although recent data challenge this axiom. Over the past 2 decades, there has been a dramatic paradigm shift in beliefs, attitude, and treatment of testosterone deficiency in men with prostate cancer.
Objective: To summarize and analyze current literature regarding the effect of testosterone replacement in men with prostate cancer.
Evidence acquisition: We conducted a Medline search to identify all publications related to testosterone therapy in both treated and untreated prostate cancer.
Evidence synthesis: The historical notion that increasing testosterone was responsible for prostate cancer growth was based on elegant yet limited studies from the 1940s and anecdotal case reports. Current evidence reveals that high endogenous androgen levels do not increase the risk of a prostate cancer diagnosis. Similarly, testosterone therapy in men with testosterone deficiency does not appear to increase prostate cancer risk or the likelihood of a more aggressive disease at prostate cancer diagnosis. Androgen receptor saturation (the saturation model) appears to account for this phenomenon. Men who received testosterone therapy after treatment for localized prostate cancer do not appear to suffer higher rates of recurrence or worse outcomes; although studies to date are limited. Early reports of men on active surveillance/watchful waiting treated with testosterone have not identified adverse progression events.
Conclusions: An improved understanding of the negative effects of testosterone deficiency on health and health-related quality of life-and the ability of testosterone therapy to mitigate these effects-has triggered a re-evaluation of the role testosterone plays in prostate cancer. An important paradigm shift has occurred within the field, in which testosterone therapy may now be regarded as a viable option for selected men with prostate cancer suffering from testosterone deficiency.
Patient summary: In this article, we review and summarize the existing literature surrounding the use of testosterone therapy in men with prostate cancer. Historically, testosterone was contraindicated in men with a history of prostate cancer. We show that this contraindication is unfounded and, with careful monitoring, its use is safe in that regard.
Keywords: Androgens; Prostate cancer; Saturation mode; Testosterone; Testosterone deficiency; Testosterone therapy.
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