Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 21, Issue 9, pp 2599–2607 | Cite as

Testosterone replacement for fatigue in hypogonadal ambulatory males with advanced cancer: a preliminary double-blind placebo-controlled trial

  • E. Del FabbroEmail author
  • J. M. Garcia
  • R. Dev
  • D. Hui
  • J. Williams
  • D. Engineer
  • J. L. Palmer
  • L. Schover
  • E. Bruera
Original Article



Uncontrolled studies show fatigue, anorexia, depression, and mortality are associated with low testosterone in men with cancer. Testosterone replacement improves quality of life and diminishes fatigue in patients with non-cancer conditions. The primary objective was to evaluate the effect of testosterone replacement on fatigue in hypogonadal males with advanced cancer, by the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Fatigue subscale (FACIT-Fatigue) at day 29.


This is a randomized, double-blinded placebo-controlled trial. Outpatients with advanced cancer, bioavailable testosterone (BT) <70 ng/dL and fatigue score >3/10 on the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale were eligible. Intra-muscular testosterone or sesame seed oil placebo was administered every 14 days to achieve BT levels 70–270 ng/dL.


Sixteen placebo and 13 testosterone-treated subjects were evaluable. No statistically significant difference was found for FACIT-fatigue scores between arms (−2 ± 12 for placebo, 4 ± 8 for testosterone, p = 0.11). Sexual Desire Inventory score (p = 0.054) and performance status (p = 0.02) improved in the testosterone group. Fatigue subscale scores were significantly better (p = 0.03) in those treated with testosterone by day 72.


Four weeks of intramuscular testosterone replacement in hypogonadal male patients with advanced cancer did not significantly improve quality of life. Larger studies of longer duration are warranted.


Cancer Fatigue Hypogonadal Males Testosterone Replacement 




This work was supported by a grant from the American Cancer Society# PEP-08-299-01-PC1 to E. Del Fabbro.

E. Bruera is supported in part by a National Institutes of Health grant numbers RO1NR010162-01A1, RO1CA1222292.01, and RO1CA124481-01.

J. Garcia is supported in part by the Dept of Veterans Affairs MERIT grants (I01-BX000507 and I01 CX000174) and the NIA (T32AG000183 and AG040583).

D. Hui is supported in part by the Clinician Investigator Program, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.


The authors have declared no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Del Fabbro
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • J. M. Garcia
    • 2
  • R. Dev
    • 1
  • D. Hui
    • 1
  • J. Williams
    • 1
  • D. Engineer
    • 2
  • J. L. Palmer
    • 1
  • L. Schover
    • 1
  • E. Bruera
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer CenterDepartment of Palliative Care and Rehabilitation MedicineHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Michael De Bakey Veterans Affairs Medical CenterBaylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA
  3. 3.Division of Hematology/Oncology and Palliative CareVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA

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