Rectal CA Radiotherapy Tied to Lower Testosterone Levels

Testosterone levels after long-course radiotherapy are significantly lower than pretreatment levels

THURSDAY, Nov. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Men who are exposed to long-course radiotherapy for rectal cancer have significantly lower serum testosterone levels compared to pretreatment, according to a review published in the November issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Christian Buchli, M.D., from the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues reviewed available literature to evaluate the impact of testicular exposure to radiation, and the consequences on testicular function among men with primary rectal cancer undergoing radiotherapy. Ten original articles were included in the review. Testicular exposure to radiation and testosterone levels were the main outcomes reported.

The investigators found that, during the long-course radiotherapy, testes were exposed to an average exposure of 0.24 to 8.4 Gy. Men treated with radiotherapy had significantly lower testosterone levels compared to their pretreatment values, or to men treated with surgery alone. The absolute risk increase for having post-radiotherapy testosterone levels below 8 nmol/L was 0.17 to 0.30. The relative risk for post-radiotherapy testosterone levels below 8 nmol/L was 2.7 in the largest study for men undergoing radiotherapy versus those undergoing surgery.

"Data summarized in this review suggest an impact of radiotherapy for rectal cancer on serum testosterone levels that is variable but likely of clinical importance for those individuals that develop testosterone deficiency," the authors write.

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