Oral estrogens were the treatment of choice for carcinoma of the prostate for over four decades, but were abandoned because of an excess of cardiovascular and thromboembolic toxicity. It is now recognized that most of this toxicity is related to the first pass portal circulation, which upregulates the hepatic metabolism of hormones, lipids and coagulation proteins. Most of this toxicity can be avoided by parenteral (intramuscular or transdermal) estrogen administration, which avoids hepatic enzyme induction. It also seems that a short-term but modest increase in cardiovascular morbidity (but not mortality) is compensated for by a long-term cardioprotective benefit, which accrues progressively as vascular remodeling develops over time. Parenteral estrogen therapy has the advantage of giving protection against the effects of andropause (similar to the female menopause), which are induced by conventional androgen suppression and include osteoporotic fracture, hot flashes, asthenia and cognitive dysfunction. In addition, parenteral estrogen therapy is significantly cheaper than contemporary endocrine therapy, with substantive economic implications for health providers.
- administration routes
- prostate cancer