Testosterone, dihydrotestosterone and oestradiol levels in postmenopausal breast cancer tissues

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1995 Jun;52(6):541-6. doi: 10.1016/0960-0760(95)00017-t.


The ability of breast tumours to synthesize hormones is well recognized, and local production of sex steroids is thought to play a role in breast cancer growth. We measured the intratumour and circulating levels of testosterone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and oestradiol in 35 histologically confirmed carcinomatous mammary tissues obtained at breast surgery from 34 postmenopausal patients, age 50-85 years. Intra-tissue steroids were extracted with ethanol:acetone (1:1; v/v), defatted with 70% methanol in water, and extracted with ether. Steroids, from tissue and serum, were separated by partition chromatography on celite columns and were measured by RIA. Intratumour testosterone and DHT concentrations were significantly correlated, after the exclusion of an outlier (rs = 0.71; P = 0.0001). No association was found between oestradiol and either of the two androgens. Mean oestradiol and DHT concentrations were significantly higher in tissue than in blood (P = 0.0001). Mean testosterone levels in tissues did not significantly differ from those measured in blood. Our data suggest that at least a part of intratissue DHT is produced locally from testosterone. The meaning of high oestradiol and DHT levels in cancer tissue still needs to be defined.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / blood
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Dihydrotestosterone / blood
  • Dihydrotestosterone / metabolism*
  • Estradiol / blood
  • Estradiol / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menopause / blood
  • Menopause / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Testosterone / metabolism*


  • Dihydrotestosterone
  • Testosterone
  • Estradiol