One increasingly popular therapy for treating prostate cancer is testosterone replacement therapy, or TRT. It has become quite common during the last 10 years. Until recently, testosterone hormone treatments were only given in situations in which a patient has a rare medical condition like hypogonadism.
Although the majority of men who take testosterone replacement therapy routinely do not have hypogonadism, they can access the drug as the result of a loophole in the FDA’s regulations governing TRT. This loophole authorizes physicians to prescribe certain drugs for uses that are not included on the label. So far, the FDA has only authorized TRT for men experiencing low levels of testosterone due to medical conditions limiting production of testosterone in the testicles.
Referred to as off-label uses, there has been a recent surge in the number of instances in which doctors are being fined and disciplined for permitting Low T clinics to give testosterone prescriptions to patients without ever actually meeting or examining the patient.
According to recent reports, these men are seeking prescriptions for testosterone to help remedy low sex drives, insomnia, depression, fatigue, moodiness, and low self-confidence. The same reports, however, note a series of studies linking testosterone use and tumor growth. If a man who has an undiagnosed case of prostate cancer takes testosterone, the tumor typically grows at an incredibly alarming speed.
Other studies have suggested that men who take testosterone replacement are more likely to suffer a heart attack and have a heightened risk of cardiovascular problems, heart disease, and stroke. Two studies from 2013 and 2014 suggest that the odds of suffering a heart attack double during the first 90 days after the testosterone prescription begins. Other frequently reported side affects associated with TRT include breast enlargement, acne, reduced renal and liver function, paranoia, difficulty urinating, depression, and nervousness.
Moreover, other studies have called into question the efficacy of testosterone treatments to treat these ailments in older men. Doctors tend to prescribe testosterone as a broad spectrum, “kitchen sink” approach to addressing the men’s complaints.
TRT therapies often come in the form of gels and creams. Some common brands include Abbot Labs’ AndrGel, GlaxoSmithKline’s Testim, and Eli Lily’s Axiron.
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