Low testosterone and associated health conditions are common in men who have had testicular cancer, according to new research.
In a study of 491 testicular cancer survivors, 38% had low testosterone or were on testosterone replacement therapy. Those with low testosterone were also more likely to take medications for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, erectile dysfunction, diabetes, and anxiety or depression.
The participants were all enrollees in the larger Platinum Study, led by scientists at Indiana University. The Platinum Study currently follows the long-term health of over 1,600 testicular cancer survivors who received cisplatin chemotherapy.
The men in the smaller study ranged in age from 19 to 68 years, with a median age of 38. All had been diagnosed with testicular cancer before age 55. Low testosterone was defined as serum testosterone at or below 3 ng/mL (300 ng/dL).
Rates of associated health conditions, based on medication usage, were as follows:
| Men with|
low testosterone levels
| Men with|
normal testosterone levels
|High blood pressure||19%||11%|
|Anxiety or depression||15%||10%|
Low testosterone was associated with older age and higher body mass index, while higher testosterone levels were found in men who exercised regularly.
The researchers also discovered a genetic abnormality that could be connected to low testosterone, but more research is needed to confirm this finding.
Men might have had low testosterone at the time of their cancer diagnosis. But low testosterone can also be a side effect of chemotherapy or surgery.
Science Daily reported that future studies of testosterone and testicular cancer survivors will include all men participating in the Platinum Study. Other research may focus on the effects of surgical treatment on survivors’ testosterone levels, as well as comparisons of the effects of surgery vs. chemotherapy.
“Testicular cancer survivors are at risk for late complications from their cisplatin-based chemotherapy,” said lead author Dr. Mohammad Issam Abu Zaid in an Indiana University press release. “Recognizing and treating low testosterone in those with symptoms can improve quality of life and lessen adverse health outcomes such as diabetes and early cardiac problems. We recommend that these men exercise, maintain a healthy body weight, and monitor their blood pressure and cholesterol levels.”
The findings were presented at this year’s annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, held in June in Chicago.
“Low testosterone levels prevalent among testicular cancer survivors”
(June 3, 2017)
“IU study: Many testicular cancer survivors have low testosterone levels; likely to experience other chronic health problems”
(News release. June 2, 2017)
Abu Zaid, et al.
“Adverse health outcomes in relationship to hypogonadism (HG) after platinum-based chemotherapy: A multicenter study of North American testicular cancer survivors (TCS)”
(Abstract LBA10012. Presented at: ASCO Annual Meeting; June 2-6, 2017; Chicago.)
“Low testosterone after testicular cancer is common, linked to chronic health problems”
(June 4, 2017)