Can testicular cancer cause low testosterone?
Yes, it can.
In fact, as many as 38% of those receiving treatment for testicular cancer or rebounding from the treatment process were found to have below-normal testosterone levels or were receiving testosterone replacement therapy.
As a result, many men with low testosterone during or after testicular cancer treatment had developed health problems identified as symptoms of low testosterone, including these:
- High blood pressure
- Erectile dysfunction
Primary and Secondary Hypogonadism
Hypogonadism (the medical term for low testosterone) falls into two main categories, primary hypogonadism and secondary hypogonadism.
Secondary hypogonadism is basically a breakdown in the hormonal communication network between your brain (the hypothalamus and pituitary gland) and your testes, where testosterone and sperm are produced.
For one reason or another, a member of this communication system is not sending the proper messages or interpreting your body’s signals appropriately, and the testes aren’t being notified that the body needs to produce testosterone.
Low testosterone and its associated symptoms can result.
When we say that testicular cancer can cause low testosterone, we are referring to primary hypogonadism — failure of the testes to perform their role of testosterone production (and possibly sperm production as well).
Some causes of testicular failure and primary hypogonadism are the following:
- Klinefelter’s syndrome
- Adolescent mumps (or other infections) causing extreme swelling of the testicles
- Trauma or injury to the testicles
- Tumors and cancer
- Radiation treatment for testicular cancer
- Surgical removal of one or both testicles
As you can see, all of these causes, including both tumors and their rather harsh treatment options, fall under a general heading of testicular trauma, preventing the testicles from functioning properly.
We often find primary hypogonadism to be the issue when treating a younger male for low testosterone.
Testicular Cancer Can Cause Low Testosterone, but Is It Permanent?
The effects of chemotherapy and radiation often subside after a period of time, and the testicles may return to normal function.
However, the effects are sometimes permanent.
Unfortunately, testicular cancer can necessitate the surgical removal of one or both of the testicles in order to save the patient’s life, an operation called an orchiectomy.
The body has no backup system for testosterone and sperm production, which means that, if removal of both testicles is necessary, natural testosterone production will cease.
However, should it only be necessary to remove one testicle, low testosterone levels may normalize as the remaining testicle increases production to compensate.
So, it is possible that removal of a single testicle will not be permanently detrimental to testosterone levels.
I Have Low Testosterone — Should I Be Concerned About Testicular Cancer?
If you suffer from low testosterone, there is no need to panic. There are many more common indicators of testicular cancer you may experience, including the following:
- Changes in size or shape of the testicles, including detectable lumps
- Blood clots causing swelling of 1 or both legs or shortness of breath
- Breast tenderness or growth — called gynecomastia
- Sudden buildup of fluid in the scrotum
If you’re experiencing low testosterone in conjunction with these other symptoms, it would be advisable to get checked out by a medical professional, such as your primary care physician or a urologist.
So, can testicular cancer cause low testosterone? Yes.
But consider getting a proper medical examination before attributing any symptoms to a serious disease, such as cancer.
Learn More About Testicular Cancer and Low Testosterone
If you’re concerned about a possible connection between testosterone and cancer, or about low testosterone after testicular cancer, we want to provide you with the information needed for peace of mind as you make health decisions.
Click the button below to read more about testosterone and cancer — it’s important to be armed with the facts.