Prostate-specific antigen changes and prostate cancer in hypogonadal men treated with testosterone replacement therapy

Robert M Coward, Jay Simhan, Culley C Carson
BJU International 2009, 103 (9): 1179-83

OBJECTIVES: To retrospectively review hypogonadal men receiving testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), and evaluate the changes in prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels over an extended period, and thus evaluate the occurrence of prostate cancer, as a primary concern in treating late-onset hypogonadism (LOH) is the potential increased risk of prostate cancer; we also recorded the cardiovascular effects of TRT.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: In all, 81 hypogonadal men (mean age 56.8 years) were followed for a mean (range) of 33.8 (6-144) months after starting TRT. All men had a normal baseline PSA level before TRT and had routine laboratory investigations, including measurements of body mass index (BMI), haematocrit, lipid profile, and liver function tests (LFTs). Testosterone and PSA levels were assessed every 6-12 months. Patients with a biopsy-confirmed or recent history of prostatitis before treatment were excluded. TRT was discontinued in men who developed prostate cancer.

RESULTS: Before and 36 months after treatment the total testosterone levels were 241.1 and 379.8 ng/dL (P < 0.05), respectively. Four men (4.9%) developed prostate cancer at a mean (range) of 32.5 (22-41) months after starting TRT. In men without prostate cancer (95.1%), PSA levels did not increase significantly at 1-year intervals for 5 years. There was no statistical difference in PSA level change from baseline to 36 months when patients without prostate cancer were stratified into groups according to age (< or =50, 55-65 and > or =70 years). In men with prostate cancer there was an increase in mean PSA level from baseline to 18 months of 1.8 ng/mL, and to 36 months of 3.2 ng/mL (P < 0.05). Total cholesterol improved from 203.8 to 166.6 mg/dL (P < 0.05) after 36 months of TRT; the BMI, haematocrit and LFTs did not change significantly.

CONCLUSIONS: LOH is an increasingly prevalent disease characterized by a symptomatically low testosterone level, and TRT is effective in normalizing serum testosterone levels, providing a beneficial cardiovascular effect, and improving sexual function and overall quality of life. PSA levels remain stable after normalization of testosterone for > or =5 years, prostate cancer can be effectively diagnosed and treated in men taking TRT, and the incidence of prostate cancer among men with LOH on TRT is no greater than that in the general population.


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