Risks of testosterone therapy

A recent case of a 51 year old male with an interest in testosterone replacement illustrates the benefits of the multi-parametric prostate MRI scan. Noting a PSA value of only ng/ml; the digital rectal exam (DRE) identified an area of interest on the left side, albeit, it was not definitive for prostate cancer. Neither the gray scale ultrasound nor Color Flow Doppler ultrasound evaluation suggested any specific abnormality consistent with the area of interest previously identified on DRE. An MRI scan was suggested as the next best step in the evaluation. The scan isolated a region of interest on the left side at the Apex to Middle portion of the prostate gland concordant with the findings on the DRE.  Based upon the findings of the MRI scan, a targeted biopsy with 6 needle cores was recommended and implemented. An Antiandrogen was initiated pre-biopsy to mitigate against “needle tracking”. Specifically, an Antiandrogen selectively blocks the receptor on the prostate cell from attracting testosterone as it exits the capsule, thereby, disabling the cells in preparation for cell death or apoptosis. The Pathology evaluation revealed a grade of cancer that was amenable to being treated conservatively or focally. In this case, the failure to use a MRI scan would have exposed this patient to the possibility of missing the cancer altogether; associated with sampling bias, a very real possibility for needle tracking (assuming cancer was found), or worse yet, the go ahead to supplement with testosterone, when in fact, the cancer was missed. Using  testosterone in this scenario would have stimulated cancer cells to grow wildly, while causing the PSA to spike abnormally, thereby, making the diagnosis of prostate cancer – a potentially uncontrollable clinical event, albeit, avoidable. Given the expertise of a Urolologic consultation, this case turned out well. The patient is now contemplating a focal treatment with high intensity focused ultrasound with a plan to supplement with testosterone once his cancer has been cured. An inability to document the resolution of prostate cancer by a repeat MRI scan and/or a stable PSA post-operatively will preclude this patient from using testosterone replacement therapy.

There are huge numbers of testosterone creams, pills, and injections as well as ads convincing men they are in need of these products. There are also thousands of lawsuits filed against the manufacturers of the various testosterone therapies claiming the drugs caused several severe cardiovascular side effects including heart attack and stroke. With this knowledge, Men’s Journal published an article describing natural ways men can boost their testosterone through diet so as not to take on unnecessary risks. One suggestion made was to increase vitamin D intake which could increase testosterone level. Men should always use caution and discuss diet changes with their doctor.

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Risks of testosterone therapy

risks of testosterone therapy

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