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TRT and Cancer — There’s No Cause for Alarm

When a potential patient begins to look into testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), cancer and other possible side effects will certainly be mentioned in the information available.

When you're on TRT, cancer, including prostate cancer, like the cancer cells pictured here, can be a concern, but there's no cause for alarm — here's why.

We always want to be sure you have the facts.

At Testosterone Centers of Texas, your health and safety come first, so we are always prepared to discuss any possible side effects of TRT, as well as what we do to prevent them.

Possible Side Effects of TRT — Cancer Does Not Appear to Be Linked to Testosterone Replacement Therapy

We’re going to address this exaggeration right up front because it’s the most often discussed and most exaggerated of all the potential side effects.

Rumors have long persisted after a single-patient study on a possible connection between testosterone replacement therapy and prostate cancer was conducted and documented by two doctors back in 1941.

In that nearly-80-year-old project, 2 researchers, Huggins and Hodges, observed a single case where lower testosterone levels caused metastatic pCA (prostate cancer) to regress, and use of supplementary testosterone caused pCA to increase.

Remarkably, this very flawed study (there was only one person studied!) spawned concerns that TRT and cancer were directly connected.

Despite the large number of studies that have been conducted since, no concrete evidence of a cause-and-effect relationship between TRT and cancer has been found.

Properly monitored administration of supplementary testosterone does not appear to cause prostate cancer in otherwise healthy men — hormone replacement therapy and prostate cancer are not connected in this way.

How TRT and Cancer Are Connected

What we do know is that higher testosterone levels may potentially cause accelerated growth of pre-existing cancer within the prostate.

If a man had already developed prostate cancer, TRT could possibly cause that tumor to grow at an increased rate.

That’s where preventative measures come in. We conduct an exhaustive blood work up prior to beginning treatment that will determine if TRT is right for you, and that includes checking for signs of prostate cancer prior to initiating treatment and regularly while receiving TRT. Again, your health and safety come first.

(You can read more about the topic of TRT and cancer in our previous posts: Does testosterone cause cancer and testosterone replacement therapy and cancer.)

The Potential Side Effects of TRT — Cancer Doesn’t Make the List

When it comes to testosterone replacement therapy and potential side effects, there are concerns, as there are for any medical treatment and its potential side effects, but by employing a proven and carefully monitored treatment program, the statistical probability of developing harmful side effects is very, very small.

We know what the risks are, and we know how to minimize the opportunity for them to develop.

Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition where the muscles of the throat relax and collapse during sleep, obstructing the breathing passage. The result is fragmented sleep.

Heavy snoring and waking up suddenly during sleep are common symptoms indicating OSA.

TRT may initially worsen OSA in some men. Though not usually a longstanding effect, any changes in sleep patterns should be monitored.

During deep sleep, the body and brain work together to heal damage at the cellular level, so interrupted sleep or poor-quality sleep can contribute to various health problems over long periods of time.

Cautions about a connection between TRT and OSA appear frequently, but the scientific literature and research findings are inconsistent and methodologically flawed, which suggests that the connection is actually a weak one.


Erythrocytosis, or an elevated hematocrit level, refers to an increase in oxygen carrying red cells in the blood (hemoglobin).

When the number of red blood cells increase in the same volume of liquid, blood viscosity or thickness increases. Hematocrit values greater than 52.0% increase a patient’s risk factors for abnormal clotting, spleen enlargement, heart failure and other serious conditions if the condition is left untreated for an extended period of time.

Through frequent monitoring of your hematocrit level, we avoid this problem all together.

Should any significant increase occur, the treatment is very simple — by donating blood, you remove the excess red blood cells suspended in the blood plasma, returning blood viscosity to normal.

(Read more about increased hematocrit levels and erythrocytosis here.)

Decreased Fertility

This is actually the most serious side effect that TRT can cause, but it’s only a concern if you’re planning on having children in the future.

When the body detects a sufficient amount of testosterone in the system, it tells the testicles to cut back on testosterone production. Sperm production decreases at the same time.

Since the goal of testosterone replacement therapy is to keep levels in the optimum range, TRT can result in a lower sperm count.

That means there’s a decreased probability of pregnancy.

In case you were wondering about a connection to erectile dysfunction (ED), or impotency, TRT may be part of your ED treatment plan.

In case you’re having difficulty with low libido or decreased sex drive, which is also a symptom of Low T, TRT may actually help you keep your desire for sex at a healthy level.

Get Relief From Your Symptoms

While there can be side effects from TRT (cancer does not appear one of them), the good news is that we know what they are and take measures right from the beginning to prevent them from developing.

Early detection through consistent blood work make all of these conditions fairly easily treated.

That means you can get relief from the very unpleasant symptoms of low testosterone with the assurance of safety.

If you still have concerns about the possible side effects of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), the cancer rumor, or just want more information, we welcome you to read more by clicking the button below — we want you to be confident in your treatment options.

Read More About the Side Effects



(Bill) William J. White, PA-C

(Bill) William J. White, PA-C brings over 20 years of surgical experience to our practice. He is a decorated veteran of the United States Army where he served for nearly 6 years with duty assignments, both here and abroad.   During his military career, Bill was trained as a Certified Surgical Technologist, and following an Honorable Discharge from the Army, he attended Texas Tech University.   He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and went on to attend PA School at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. He spent the first 10 years of his career in Neurosurgery.

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