Poll: Testosterone replacement therapy in men with prostate cancer

Men of any age can present with the symptoms of low testosterone – including erectile dysfunction, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, decreased muscle mass and bone density. Is it safe to treat these symptoms with testosterone replacement therapy?

There are several ways to treat men with low testosterone: the most common are gels, patches, and injections. These treatments are effective for relieving symptoms, and are generally safe.

There is controversy as to whether men with a history of prostate cancer should receive hormone treatment for low testosterone. Since the risk of prostate cancer can theoretically increase with increased testosterone levels, the FDA says that testosterone replacement therapy is contraindicated for men with a history of prostate cancer.

However, studies have not shown a clear link between testosterone supplementation and prostate cancer, and an emerging movement of physicians are pushing for select symptomatic men with a history of prostate cancer to be allowed treatment for low testosterone levels.

If doctors can strictly monitor patients for prostate cancer, including regular digital rectal exams and prostate specific antigen tests, I don’t see why we can’t reconsider treatment with testosterone replacement therapy – which can greatly improve quality of life – for men who have had their prostate cancer cured.

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