In a recent study published in the journal Public Health Reports, researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch found that 20% of men with normal levels of testosterone are still being prescribed the hormone.
The Endocrine Society guidelines recommends that only men with low levels of testosterone and with no signs of prostate cancer should have testosterone therapy. In the study, the team conducted a survey in 61,474 men aged over 40 years that were prescribed testosterone from 2001 to 2010 across the United States. Results from the population-based survey revealed that 25% of the men were not previously checked for their testosterone levels before treatment prescription, and half of them were not checked during the first treatment year.
“These findings show that there may not be a consensus among physicians regarding the definition of ‘low testosterone,’ said Jacques Baillargeon, UTMB professor of epidemiology in the department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health and lead author of the study in a recent news release. “It’s possible that in some cases physicians judge that a patient’s symptoms, such as fatigue and loss of muscle mass, merit testosterone therapy without clinically defined low testosterone levels.”
UTMB researchers also found that 39% of men that were new users of testosterone were not screened for prostate cancer one year before the start of the treatment and 56% were not screened for prostate cancer one year after the start of the hormonal therapy.
According to Dr. Baillargeon, these low rates of prostate cancer screening were surprising, because they go against Endocrine Society guidelines making testosterone users less likely to receive specialized medical care.
“These findings are very important from a medical and public health standpoint given the rapidly increasing number of men receiving testosterone in the U.S.,” said Dr. Baillargeon in a news release. “Further research on the medical decision-making processes involved in monitoring and prostate cancer screening will be important, given our limited knowledge of the risks of this therapy.”