Objective: To investigate the possible relationship between serum levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA), dihydrotestosterone (DHT), testosterone, sexual-hormone binding globulin (SHBG) and tumour stage, grade and ploidy in 65 cases of prostate cancer diagnosed in a screening study compared to 130 controls from the same population.
Patients, subjects and methods: From a population of 26,602 men between the ages of 55 and 70 years, 2400 were selected randomly and invited to undergo screening for prostate cancer using a digital rectal examination, transrectal ultrasonography and PSA analysis. Among the 1782 attendees, 65 cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed. Each case was matched with two control subjects of similar age and prostate volume from the screening population. Frozen serum samples were analysed for PSA, DHT, testosterone and SHBG, and compared to the diagnosis and tumour stage, grade and ploidy. Comparisons between these variables, and multivariate and regression analyses were performed.
Results: There were significant differences in PSA level with all variables except tumour ploidy. DHT levels were slightly lower in patients with prostate cancer but the difference was not statistically significant. There was a trend towards lower DHT values in more advanced tumours and the difference for T-stages was close to statistical significance (P = 0.059). Testosterone levels were lower in patients with cancer than in the control group, but the differences were not significant. There was no correlation between testosterone levels, tumour stage and ploidy, but the differences in testosterone level in tumours of a low grade of differentiation compared to those with intermediate and high grade was nearly significant (P = 0.058). The testosterone/DHT ratio tended to be higher in patients with more advanced tumours. SHBG levels were lower in patients with cancer than in controls but the differences were not statistically significant. There were no systematic variations of tumour stage, grade and ploidy. Multivariate analysis showed that if the PSA level was known, then DHT, testosterone or SHBG added no further information concerning diagnosis, stage, grade or ploidy. Regression analysis on T-stage, PSA level and DHT showed an inverse linear relationship between PSA and DHT for stage T-3 (P = 0.035), but there was no relationship between PSA and testosterone.
Conclusion: PSA was of value in discriminating between cases and controls and between various tumour stages and grades, but no statistically significant correlation was found for ploidy. If PSA level was known, no other variable added information in individual cases. Within a group, DHT levels tended to be lower among cases and in those with more advanced tumours. There was an inverse relationship between tumour volume, as defined by PSA level, and 5 alpha-reductase activity, as defined by DHT level, and the testosterone/DHT ratio. This trend was most obvious with T-stage. No systematic variation were found in the levels of testosterone or SHBG.