A recent case of a 51 year old male with an interest in testosterone replacement illustrates the benefits of the multi-parametric prostate MRI scan. Noting a PSA value of only ng/ml; the digital rectal exam (DRE) identified an area of interest on the left side, albeit, it was not definitive for prostate cancer. Neither the gray scale ultrasound nor Color Flow Doppler ultrasound evaluation suggested any specific abnormality consistent with the area of interest previously identified on DRE. An MRI scan was suggested as the next best step in the evaluation. The scan isolated a region of interest on the left side at the Apex to Middle portion of the prostate gland concordant with the findings on the DRE. Based upon the findings of the MRI scan, a targeted biopsy with 6 needle cores was recommended and implemented. An Antiandrogen was initiated pre-biopsy to mitigate against “needle tracking”. Specifically, an Antiandrogen selectively blocks the receptor on the prostate cell from attracting testosterone as it exits the capsule, thereby, disabling the cells in preparation for cell death or apoptosis. The Pathology evaluation revealed a grade of cancer that was amenable to being treated conservatively or focally. In this case, the failure to use a MRI scan would have exposed this patient to the possibility of missing the cancer altogether; associated with sampling bias, a very real possibility for needle tracking (assuming cancer was found), or worse yet, the go ahead to supplement with testosterone, when in fact, the cancer was missed. Using testosterone in this scenario would have stimulated cancer cells to grow wildly, while causing the PSA to spike abnormally, thereby, making the diagnosis of prostate cancer – a potentially uncontrollable clinical event, albeit, avoidable. Given the expertise of a Urolologic consultation, this case turned out well. The patient is now contemplating a focal treatment with high intensity focused ultrasound with a plan to supplement with testosterone once his cancer has been cured. An inability to document the resolution of prostate cancer by a repeat MRI scan and/or a stable PSA post-operatively will preclude this patient from using testosterone replacement therapy.
On the flip side, a deficiency in the major male sex hormone—a condition that burdens some million American men over the age of 45, according to US census data—is, well, far from sexy. Side effects of “Low-T” include low libido, limp erections, hair thinning, muscle loss, fat gain, depression … In fact, one study found that that the lower a man’s testosterone levels, the higher his risk of death from any cause—heart disease in particular. Adding insult to injury, the Food and Drug Administration says there's little evidence that testosterone drugs are beneficial. ( Did we mention depression? ) The good news is you can boost your testosterone naturally, and diet plays a key role. So grab a pen, jot down a grocery list of these Eat This, Not That! -approved, T-boosting foods and get ready to unleash your hard-wired alpha male.
All bets are off the table when high-dose testosterone and its many metabolites are used illegally, such as with anabolic steroid abuse. Strokes, embolisms, and cardiovascular disease are all more likely, as is sudden death, and liver and kidney disease. 44 In women, acne, irreversible deepening of the voice, baldness, increased facial hair, enlarged sex organs, breast reduction, depression, and infertility have all been reported. In adult men that abuse anabolic steroids, acne, baldness, permanent infertility, gynecomastia, loss of libido, erectile dysfunction, testicle shrinkage, and profuse sweating are all reported side effects. Increased testicular cancer hasn't been reported, though. 45,46