Synthetic derivatives of the natural hormone testosterone are used to reduce the size of hormone-responsive tumors.
Testosterone-related drugs are used to treat advanced disseminated breast cancer in women.
Testosterone belongs to a class of hormones called androgens. These are male hormones responsible for the development of the male reproductive system and secondary male sexual characteristics such as voice depth and facial hair. Testosterone is normally produced by the testes in large quantities in men. It also occurs normally in smaller quantities in women.
Several man-made derivatives of testosterone are used to treat advanced disseminated breast cancer in women, especially when cancer has spread to the bones. The most common of these testosterone-like drugs are fluoxymesterone (Halotestin) and methyltestosterone (Testred). These androgens are used only in women who have late-stage breast cancer and who meet specific criteria. These criteria include:
The patient is postmenopausal.
The tumors have been shown to be hormone-dependent.
The tumors have spread, often to the bone, or recurred after other hormonal cancer treatments.
Using testosterone derivatives to treat breast cancer is a palliative treatment. This means that the treatment helps relieve symptoms but does not cure the cancer. These drugs are approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and their cost is usually covered by insurance.
Clinical trials are currently underway that involve the use of testosterone-related androgens in varying combinations with other drugs to treat advanced cancers. The selection of clinical trials changes constantly. Current information on the availability and location of clinical trials can be found at the following web sites: