Evaluation of postmenopausal women with suspicion of androgen-secreting tumor.
Design and patients
We retrospectively studied 22 postmenopausal women referred to our center for suspicion of androgen-secreting tumor. All patients had clinical, biological, and morphological evaluation. In absence of adrenal tumors, ovarian surgery was most often proposed and immunohistochemistry (IHC) studies were performed.
Ovarian tumors were detected by ultrasound and/or magnetic resonance imaging in eight patients. Two adrenal androgen-secreting tumors were diagnosed by an adrenal computed tomography (CT) scan. The clinical presentation of the women with or without tumors was similar. Nevertheless, women with tumor exhibited significantly higher testosterone levels and lower basal FSH and LH levels than the other women (2.6±2.7 vs 0.9±0.9 ng/ml, P<0.05; 26.5±22.9 vs 66.5±26.0 IU/l, P<0.01; and 12.0±8.6 vs 24.1±8.9 IU/l, P<0.05 respectively). Based on a likelihood ratio test, patients with a tumor had 8.4 and 10.8 times higher risk of having a testosterone level ≥1.4 ng/ml or an FSH level ≤35 IU/l. Finally, IHC analysis with an anti-P450c17α antibody allowed the identification of an elevated number of ovarian androgen-producing cells in five patients in whom no tumor was found.
Androgen-secreting tumors are clinically difficult to discriminate from other causes of postmenopausal hyperandrogenism. Testosterone and FSH were the two discriminative markers in a multivariate analysis. Ovarian and adrenal tumors were detected by imaging studies. However, ovarian non-tumoral causes of hyperandrogenism may be difficult to detect with conventional histology.