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Male cancer survivors may need hormone boost

Wednesday November 13th, 2019

Young male cancer survivors may benefit from treatment with replacement testosterone, British experts have reported.

A study was carried out by Professor Richard Ross at the University of Sheffield, UK, and colleagues.

They explain that most cancer research is focused on treating the condition, but they wanted to look at methods to benefit survivors, and this is the first study of its kind to investigate a treatment for one of the late effects of cancer.

About 15% of young male cancer survivors go on to have problems with hormone levels due to chemotherapy and radiotherapy, particularly after treatment for testicular cancer.

The resulting reduced testosterone levels can raise body mass and increase the risk of heart disease.

The new study was published yesterday (12 November) in PLoS Medicine. It was a randomised study of testosterone replacement or placebo in survivors with low testosterone levels.

The 136 participants, aged 25 to 50, took either testosterone or placebo for six months, after which those on the drug lost an average of 1.8kg fat mass and gained 1.5kg in lean body mass.

Professor Ross said: “These late effects of cancer on the health of cancer survivors are increasingly being recognised. The results of this study have significant benefits alongside improvements in body composition, potentially offsetting the risk of increased mortality from heart disease.”

The trial was funded by Cancer Research UK. Dr Aine McCarthy from the charity, commented: “This small study offers a potential way to improve survivors’ quality of life. But this treatment might not be suitable for everyone and we still don’t know how long to give it for, so it will be interesting to see the next steps for this research.”

Ross, R. et al. Testosterone Replacement in Young Male cancer Survivors: A six month double-blind randomised placebo-controlled trial. PLoS Medicine 12 November 2019 doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002960

https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002960

Tags: Cancer | Men's Health | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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