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Testosterone replacement helps male cancer survivors

Testosterone deficiency linked to reduced quality of life and low energy

OnMedica Staff

Monday, 22 February 2010

Men who survive cancer and then struggle with long-term treatment effects might benefit from testosterone replacement therapy, a study published online in Cancer suggests.

Around 15% of male cancer survivors experience testosterone deficiency as a late side-effect of chemotherapy or radiotherapy and this can impair quality of life and reduce energy levels.

Researchers at the University of Sheffield examined the relationship between testosterone levels, quality of life, self-esteem, fatigue and sexual function in 176 young male cancer survivors compared with 213 young men without cancer.

They found that young male cancer survivors reported a marked impairment in quality of life, as well as reduced energy levels and quality of sexual function. These experiences were exacerbated in survivors with testosterone deficiency.

The problems could not be attributed to psychological distress or reduced self-esteem of the cancer survivors because these scores were comparable between the two groups.

Professor Ross of the University of Sheffield said: "This is an important study demonstrating that low testosterone levels are common in male cancer survivors and associated with an impaired quality of life. However, the relationship between testosterone levels and quality of life is complex and appears to depend on a threshold level rather than on a direct correlation. We now need interventional trials with testosterone to determine which young male cancer survivors will benefit from replacement therapy."

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