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What role do androgens play in prostate cancer?

Marc B. Garnick, MD
Hematology & Oncology
Androgens are male sex hormones that fuel the growth of prostate cells, including prostate cancer cells.

The androgen cascade:

1. The hypothalamus releases pulses of luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH), which signals the pituitary gland to crank out luteinizing hormone (LH).

2. LH travels through the bloodstream. When it reaches the testicles, it triggers the action of specialized cells that secrete testosterone into the bloodstream.

3. In the prostate, the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase converts testosterone and other types of androgens into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which stimulates the growth of prostate cells -- and fuels the growth of cancer, if it is present.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.