Specific Baldness Pattern Associated with Increased Prostate Cancer Risk

Baldness on front and crown of head linked to increased chance of developing aggressive prostate cancer.

Baldness on front and crown of head linked to increased chance of developing aggressive prostate cancer.

Men with a specific pattern of baldness face an increased risk of prostate cancer, according to the results of a recent study.

Published online September 15, 2014 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers found that males with moderate baldness affecting the front and crown of their head at age 45 carry a 40% increased risk of developing aggressive prostate later in life compared with men who are not bald. The study noted that the baldness pattern usually indicates a faster growing tumor, which results in a poorer prognosis relative to non-aggressive prostate cancer.

“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,” said senior study author Michael B. Cook, PhD, in a press release. “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.”

Researchers examined the link between male pattern baldness and the risk of prostate cancer in a cohort of 39,070 men, aged between 55 and 74 years at enrollment, from the US PLCO Cancer Screening Trial. The subjects answered questionnaires in which they identified their hair-loss patterns at age 45 using a pictorial tool.

During a subsequent follow-up, 1138 prostate cancer cases were diagnosed. Of those cases, 51% were aggressive, with a Gleason score equal to or greater than 7, stage III or IV, or prostate cancer as the cause of death.

The median age at the time prostate cancer was diagnosed was 72 years. There was no association found between male pattern baldness and the risk of non-aggressive prostate cancer.

As a follow up, the authors are currently conducting additional cohort analyses that explore the link between male pattern baldness and the risk of developing and dying from prostate cancer. The research includes a baseline dermatologic assessment of male pattern baldness, rather than the recall method used in the present study.

The researchers stated that should the findings be confirmed by future studies, a medical assessment of baldness may aid in identifying men who face an increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer.