Testosterone Therapy Is Not A Solid Treatment Choice for Prostate Cancer?

Testosterone Therapy Is Not A Solid Treatment Choice for Prostate Cancer?


A recent article in the “Well” section of The New York Times website recently ran a story that shot down testosterone therapy as a treatment method for early prostate cancer. Their claims contradict claims made by numerous refutable sources over the past several years that stated that testosterone therapy could help eliminate the prostate cancer cells from the human body.

This also contradicts the traditional treatment methods that doctors have been using to help treat prostate cancer for decades. Over the years, men have been getting put on drug therapy with the hopes of cutting off the production of testosterone. This therapy was used despite the fact that this therapy could lead to diabetes, impotence and bone loss. A new study that looked at the therapy found that this “deprivation” therapy did not extend the life of patients getting the treatment.

On the other side, the findings of this study does join those that feel that testosterone treatment needs to be avoided at all cost when it comes to being used to treat prostate cancer.

Dr. Grace L. Lu-Yao is researcher from the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and also the lead author of the report. She said that “there are so many side effects associated with this therapy, and really little evidence to support its use.” When it comes to those patients that have an extremely “localized prostate cancer,” Lu-Yao feels that this treatment method, “is not a good option.”

The Study

To compile the data they used to come up with these findings, Lu-Yao and her fellow researchers followed tens of thousandsof men that were diagnosed with early prostate cancer. Some of these patients were in this state of prostate cancer for as many as 15 years and what the research concluded was that those that were treated with the androgen deprivation therapy did not live longer than those patients that did not experience this treatment method.

The results of this study were “eye-opening and even alarming,” for Dr. James M. McKiernan, who is the acting chairman of urology at New York-Presbyterian, and did not take part in the study. He added that the findings of this study suggested “that there’s no added benefit to the therapy.” Despite that, McKiernan understands that there are still countless doctors that will continue to use the treatment.

In the study, nearly 67,000 men were followed by researchers. These men were all over the age of 66 and researchers compared numbers from one location to numbers in another location around the United States. They looked at areas where the drugs were commonly used as a treatment and compared the results to locations where the drugs were not commonly prescribed. The basic findings of the study were that prolonged life expectancy was not guaranteed because of using the drug treatments.

There was a trial conducted recently in Europe that led to nearly the same results. That study found that the type of drugs in question only worked with men who had a more aggressive form of prostate cancer.

The Facts

Prostate cancer is the second most diagnosed cancer in men, trailing only skin cancer. It is a cancer that affects every one in seven men and each year, there are roughly 250,000 new cases that are diagnosed in the United States. Of those 250,000 men, at least 90 percent are diagnosed in the early stages of prostate cancer that has not seen the cancer cells spread and is considered a “low-risk” situation for the patient.

When patients are diagnosed with prostate cancer, one of the likeliest treatment methods was to prescribe drugs that are used to suppress hormones like testosterone. What these drugs do is essentially castrate the tumor, shrinking them outright or helping to slow the growth process of the tumor. When testosterone treatment is combined with other treatments including radiation, the chance of survivor increases drastically.

The use of these drugs began to rise exponentially in the 1990s for patients of all ages and regardless of the stage. This was especially the case with older patients and even today, the estimated tally on the number of patients over the age of 75 that are chemically castrated is at least 25 percent. The drugs are usually prescribed to patients for life and while they will help to fight back against the cancerous cells, will also increase the risk of developing bone fractures, heart disease, diabetes and hot flashes. 

>Learn more about the prostate gland

>Learn more about prostate cancer


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