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Can Testosterone Replacement Therapy Increase the Risk of Prostate Cancer?

Many men who receive hormone replacement therapy wonder if this treatment could increase their risk of developing cancer. More specifically, since prostate cancer is so common, some men may question whether there is any link between testosterone replacement therapy and prostate cancer. According to the results of a recent study, testosterone treatment does not increase a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer. In fact, new research suggests that this treatment may actually reduce the risk of aggressive prostate cancer.

What are the risks of testosterone replacement therapy?

While there is currently no evidence to suggest the existence of any link between testosterone replacement therapy and prostate cancer, the use of this treatment is not completely without risk. For instance, some men may experience immediate side effects, such as breathing disturbances during sleep, breast swelling or tenderness, ankle swelling and acne. Many physicians also monitor their testosterone replacement patients for high red blood cell counts, which can increase the risk of blood clots. Additionally, long-term testosterone replacement therapy is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular problems, including heart attacks and strokes, particularly in older men.

For men who have low blood testosterone levels, the benefits of hormone replacement therapy generally outweigh the potential risks. However, most other men who are considering testosterone replacement therapy should proceed cautiously. It’s always best to consult with an experienced physician who can provide individualized advice after carefully weighing the risks and benefits. Sometimes, the issues sought to be addressed with hormone therapy, such as fatigue and low sex drive, can be targeted in other ways. For instance, it may be appropriate to first identify and address any nutritional, exercise or sleep deficiencies before considering hormone replacement therapy.

If you would like to discuss your prostate cancer risk with an oncologist in the Urologic Oncology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center, you can request an appointment by calling 1-888-663-3488 or completing our new patient registration form online. We do not require referrals.