In this article, we shall examine the effect of testosterone level on the risk of prostate cancer. This has remained a subject of great controversy because of the divergent views that have been fronted. Basically the argument has been that using testosterone therapy on men who have been treated of prostate cancer in the past exposes them to the risk of developing the cancer afresh. The reason given for this has been that the therapy could reawaken sleeping cancer cells in the body of the patient, thus triggering a new and aggressive attack. On the other end of the spectrum has been the argument that testosterone therapy is not necessarily associated with cancer recurrence. And there have been studies to support this. We shall look at both sets of arguments in detail.
This is a common form of therapy that is widely used to treat a number of complications in aging men. With the process of aging comes a sustained decline in the amount of testosterone in the body of men. A decline in the amount of testosterone in the body is associated with a number of problems. For instance, men at advanced ages usually experience decreased libido. This effect can be attributed to a complex interplay of hormones within the body which is triggered by a reduction in the amount of testosterone. In the same manner, symptoms such as general fatigue and even other forms of sexual dysfunction (apart from the low libido mentioned) have been treated by use of testosterone therapy.
Prostate cancer is a common form of disease in men of advanced age. Although studies have indicated that the disease is able to affect men of even lower ages, it has been common for the disease to be associated with advanced age. The complex interaction between different factors in the body of men at advanced ages has been studies and the results have indicated that the risk of development of prostate cancer in men increases rapidly as they advance in age. So, with a decrease in the amount of testosterone, which automatically occurs with an increase in age, comes a rise in the risk for developing prostate cancer. Although this is true, it is worthwhile to mention that currently, studies are being conducted to determine whether the relationship is as a result of decline in testosterone levels in the prostate alone or the body as a whole.
For men who develop prostate cancer, the standard treatment procedure has been a radical reduction of the hormones in the body. This procedure has been used in many cases in which prostate cancer has developed and metastasized fully. However, studies have indicated that in some cases, prostate cancer is able to withstand such a treatment and recur in the future, if triggered by existence of the right conditions. The manner in which this occurs has been attributed to the ability of prostate cells to produce testosterone at a much higher level than before the hormone-reducing therapy was administered. What this means is that even if the amount of testosterone in the body of a patient is dramatically reduced by the procedure, the amount in the prostate remains the same, thus compensating for the loss. Therefore, when the right conditions are created, the cells that produce excess testosterone may develop into cancer cells.
Standard procedure for tackling prostate cancer in men has been through surgery, chemotherapy and even immunotherapy. However, history and studies have indicated that when men who have been successfully treated of prostate cancer are exposed to testosterone therapy later in their lives, the possibility of the prostate cancer reoccurring is highly increased. If this is so, then testosterone therapy becomes dangerous for men who have been successfully treated of prostate cancer before. However, there have been arguments to the contrary. Since a lot of studies have been conducted on this matter, we summarize the most important points here as follows. First, although some studies have indicated that giving the therapy to men who have been successfully treated of prostate cancer exposes them to the risk of developing the disease afresh, the degree of risk remains minimal, at the best. Since the association has not been firmly established, the balance of probability has been that whether or not to administer the treatment to such patients depends on the judgment of the specialist. It is safe to say that the outcome of using testosterone therapy in men who have undergone successful treatment of prostate cancer cannot be predicted with certainty. Second, there has been evidence to suggest that men with low levels of testosterone are at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer compared to those having normal testosterone levels. Therefore, if such men seek testosterone therapy in the future the risk of developing the cancer remains. This is so because testosterone therapy is not used as a prostate cancer treatment method.
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