Serum testosterone levels after external beam radiation for clinically localized prostate cancer

Gunar K. Zagars, Alan Pollack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Purpose: To determine whether serum total testosterone levels change after external beam radiation therapy for localized prostate cancer. Methods and Materials: Eighty-five men with clinically localized prostate cancer (T1- T3, N0/NX, M0) who underwent external beam radiation therapy without androgen ablation had pretreatment and 3-month posttreatment total serum testosterone levels determined by radioimmunoassay. Scattered doses to the testicles were measured with thermoluminescent dosimetry in 10 men. Results: Pretreatment serum testosterone levels ranged from 185 to 783 ng/dl, with a mean of 400 ng/dl and a median of 390 ng/dl. The coefficient of variation was 30%. Postradiation 3-month testosterone levels ranged from 163 ng/dl to 796 ng/dl, with mean and median values of 356 ng/dl and 327 ng/ml, respectively. The coefficient of variation was 34%. The 3-month value was significantly lower than the pretreatment value (Wilcoxon paired p = 0.0001). The mean absolute fall was 94 ng/dl and the mean percentage fall was 9%. Although the fall in testosterone level was statistically significant, the difference was very small quantitatively. In contrast, serum prostate-specific antigen levels fell dramatically by 3 months after radiation. Testicular scattered doses ranged from 1.84 to 2.42 Gy, with a mean of 2.07 Gy for a prostatic tumor dose of 68 Gy. Conclusions: Although significant, the fall in serum testosterone level after radiation for localized prostate cancer was small and likely of no pathophysiologic consequence. It is unlikely that scattered testicular radiation plays any significant role in the genesis of this change in testosterone level, which most likely occurs as a nonspecific stress response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-89
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Prostate cancer
  • Radiation
  • Testosterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiation


Dive into the research topics of 'Serum testosterone levels after external beam radiation for clinically localized prostate cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this