How Baldness May Indicate Prostate Cancer Risk

Men who undergo natural or unexplained hair loss would have to observe the pattern their baldness takes in order to determine the level of their risk of having prostate cancer.

A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology recently reveals that men with a specific pattern of baldness at age 45 are at a 40 per cent increased risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer, also called carcinoma of the prostate, is when a cancer affects the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, United States had earlier found that African-American men who experience baldness were 69 per cent more likely to develop prostate cancer than those who are not bald. They arrived at this conclusion last year after a study involving 318 African-American prostate cancer patients with baldness who were aged between 39 and 86.

Two hundred and nineteen African-American men aged between 33 and 93 who did not have prostate cancer were also examined. The team’s findings also show that men with frontal baldness have doubled probability of developing aggressive prostate cancer.

Most of the studies seeking to establish the relationship between baldness and prostate cancer link frontal baldness to high-stage and high-grade prostate cancer, while crown baldness is linked to low-grade prostate cancer.

As part of the United States’ prostate, lung, colorectal and ovarian cancer screening trial, researchers from the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland had also analysed questionnaire data from 39,070 men aged between 55 and 74 of which 1,138 out of the men in the study group were diagnosed with prostate cancer during the follow-up period. The mean age at the time of diagnosis was 72 while 51 per cent of the cases were defined as “aggressive” cancers.

Michael Cook, a senior author and one of the key researchers explains the researchers’ findings saying, “Our study found an increased risk for aggressive prostate cancer only in men with a very specific pattern of hair loss baldness at the front and moderate hair-thinning on the crown of the head, at the age of 45. But we saw no increased risk for any form of prostate cancer in men with other hair-loss patterns.” The researchers also found no link between male baldness pattern and a risk for non-aggressive prostate cancer.

Even as the researchers believe that medical evaluation of baldness may be useful in identifying men who are at increased risk for aggressive prostate cancer, Cook says it is too soon to apply these findings to patient care as the findings still need to be confirmed by further studies

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