In a recent study of germ cell tumor survivors, roughly half had hypogonadism – low testosterone – regardless of whether they were treated with surgery alone or surgery with platinum-based chemotherapy, scientists report in the journal Supportive Care in Cancer.
However, patients who had chemotherapy added to their surgical treatment were more likely to have male aging symptoms.
Germ cells are reproductive cells: egg cells in females and sperm cells in males. Tumors form when these cells grow and accumulate in an abnormal way. Some germ cell tumors are cancerous. When they are, they usually develop into ovarian cancer or testicular cancer.
The study included 199 germ cell tumor survivors between the ages of 18 and 50. Each participant completed a quality of life questionnaire at the start of the study and again three and six months later.
About 48% of the entire group had low testosterone. (For this study, hypogonadism was diagnosed if a man’s testosterone levels were below 300 ng/dL.)
Next, the researchers looked at testosterone levels based on type of treatment. Among patients who had had both surgery and chemotherapy, the low testosterone rate was 51%. For those who had surgery alone, the rate was 45%.
Patients who had low testosterone levels were more likely to have reported fatigue, poor sleep quality, and worse general health at the start of the study.
When the scientists compared quality of life assessment scores for the two groups, they found no statistically significant differences. However, those who had had both surgery and chemotherapy “exhibited more symptoms related to male aging.”
“Germ cell tumors”
(May 25, 2019)
Oncology Learning Network
“Surgery With or Without Chemo Yields Low Testosterone in GCT Survivors”
Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance
Supportive Care in Cancer
Khanal, N., et al.
“The effects of hypogonadism on quality of life in survivors of germ cell tumors treated with surgery alone versus surgery plus platinum-based chemotherapy”
(Abstract. Published: November 9, 2019)
“What Are Germ Cell Tumors?”
(Reviewed: October 12, 2019)