|Does testosterone supplementation cause prostate camcer?
Jan 2, 2002
Thanks for all of your great answers. Without Androgel my testosterone score was about 202 (normal if from 200 to 800). I was fatigued all the time without the Androgel supplement and even felt tired after sleeping 10 hours or more!!! Is the gel an automatic for prostate cancer problems in the future? [Androgel is a form of testosterone supplement applied as a gel]
Response from Dr. Dezube
The issue of testosterone supplementation and prostate cancer is an important one. Although many of my patients use androgel or other testosterone supplements, they do so only after I have discussed in detail the risks with them. The exact risk for prostate cancer is not known. It is certainly not zero risk since testosterone does indeed cause prostate cells to grow. In fact we treat prostate cancer patients by giving them drugs to lower their testosterone level. As with most medical issues, a patient needs to weigh the benefits and the risks. The benefits of androgel include increased sex drive, increased lean body mass, and increased energy. The risks include liver inflammation, hypertension, an over abundance of red cells, and both prostate swelling (making peeing difficult) and prostate cancer. Many of my patients make an educated choice and choose to use testosterone supplementation. The long term effects of this are simply not known. I recommend that all male patients receiving testosterone replacement should have regular blood work [including blood counts, liver tests, testosterone levels, and PSA (this is a test which detects early prostate cancer)] and regular physical exams (including blood pressure and prostate exam). I usually check the PSA test once a year. If a patient has had prostate cancer, then he should never use testosterone supplementation.
I should add the woman go through a similar mental dilemma. Estrogen replacement can solve many of the problems related to menopause, including hot flashes, osteoporosis, and so on. On the hand, estrogens can cause breast cancer. So again, this is a risk vs benefit issue.
In short, testosterone supplementation should be considered only after a patient and his provider clearly understands the risks and benefits.
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