Drop in testosterone could signal prostate cancer return

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Testosterone drops linked to recurrent prostate cancer in surprising finding.
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New findings from researchers show a job in testosterone could signal return of the disease. The finding that comes from Fox Chase researchers also correlate with a rise in PSA levels, though the researchers say they have more to learn.

PSA elevation that is detected with a blood test after radiation treatment for prostate cancer is one of the first signs that prostate cancer has returned.

The new research shows rising PSA also parallels drops in testosterone hormone levels.

Study author Jeffrey Martin, MD, resident physician in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Fox Chases said in a press release, "For men with a decrease in testosterone, doctors might intervene earlier with other medications, or follow their PSA more closely than they would otherwise, to spot recurrences at an earlier time."

Dr. Martin and colleagues conducted the study to find out if there’s any association between testosterone levels and prostate cancer recurrence after radiation treatment in what it means for outcomes.

The researchers looked at data from men who had been treated for the disease between 2002 in 2008.

The men had either received radioactive implants or external radiation to treat prostate cancer.

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Both forms of treatment were found to lower testosterone levels. But a significant drop in the level of the male hormone was more likely to correlate with rising PSA.

Martin says the finding, though rare, came as a surprise because testosterone is thought to fuel prostate cancer. One of the treatments for prostate cancer is hormone therapy to reduce levels of testosterone.

According to Fox Chase, there are four types of therapy that reduced hormone levels that include surgical removal of the testicles, anti-androgen therapy that prevents testosterone from attaching to prostate cancer cells, total androgen ablation that inhibits the release of testosterone in addition to preventing testosterone binding to receptors and intermittent hormone therapy given for several months to a year to lower PSA levels.

"We don't necessarily know what this means yet. I think the relationship between testosterone levels following radiation therapy and prognosis needs more study, and until then it's premature to say this is something patients should ask their doctors about,' Martin said.

The findings will be presented on October 29 at the American Society for Radiation Oncology's 54th Annual Meeting.

The authors recommend large studies to further define why lower testosterone levels after radiation therapy are associated with elevated PSA levels and prostate cancer recurrence.

Source:
Fox Chase Cancer Center
October 28, 2012

Resource;
Fox Chase Cancer Center
‘Hormone Therapy for Cancer Patients”

Image credit: Wikimedia commons

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