The study finding1 that men with moderate pattern baldness on the front and the crown of the head at age 45 had a 40% increased risk, compared to men with no baldness at that age, of developing prostate cancer later in life has received coverage by diverse media, from USA Today2 to TIME3 to the Wall Street Journal.4 USA Today even accompanied its article with a photograph of a balding George from the Seinfeld television series. With all this attention, physicians can expect questions from patients about the study and what it means for men.
“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,” explained senior study author Michael B. Cook, PhD, an investigator in the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. “While our data show a strong possibility for a link between the development of baldness and aggressive prostate cancer, it’s too soon to apply these findings to patient care.”
According to Charles J. Ryan, MD, Professor of Clinical Medicine and Urology, Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California, San Francisco, the study is not definitive and merely raises interesting questions in the population. Those questions involve hormonal, genetic, and other factors that will need to answered by additional studies.
In the meantime, since the current study did show that moderate pattern baldness at age 45 preceded the diagnosis of prostate cancer, Dr. Ryan suggested that information about pattern baldness be considered for inclusion in the patient’s medical record. ■
Disclosure: Dr. Ryan reported no potential conflicts of interest.
1. Zhou CK, Pfeiffer RM, Cleary SD, et al: Relationship between male pattern baldness and the risk of aggressive prostate cancer: An analysis of the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial. J Clin Oncol, September 15, 2014 (early release online).
2. Szabo L: Does the state of man’s pate reveal his cancer risk? USA Today, September 15, 2014.
3. Oaklander M: Male pattern baldness linked to aggressive prostate cancer. TIME, September 15, 2014.
4. Loftus P: Certain bald men have a higher risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer. Wall Street Journal, September 15, 2014.
Men with moderate pattern baldness on the front and the crown of the head at age 45 had a 40% increased risk, compared to men with no baldness at that age, of developing prostate cancer later in life, according to a study led by researchers from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and published in...