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Hormone Treatment For Prostate Cancer

Hormone treatment for prostate cancer

Prostatic cancers are the second most frequently diagnosed cancers in men (over 670,000 diagnosed annually worldwide), second only to lung cancers.

When cancers of the prostate gland have spread to surrounding tissues, advanced therapies include hormonal treatments, such as anti-androgens, testosterone agonist injections, or even surgically removing the testes.

Some of these hormonal therapies are even being tested in milder cases with lower stages of prostate cancer.

However, hormone treatment for prostate cancer may increase the risks of side effects, according to medical research.

A new study followed 30,642 Swedish men with advanced or metastatic prostatic cancers who received hormonal therapy between 1997 and 2005. They were followed for an average of three years.

Side effects of hormonal therapy

Compared to other cancer patients in Sweden, men receiving hormonal therapy (at least one of above therapies, but usually a combination of the two drug approaches) showed

  • 24% increased risk of myocardial infarction or heart attack, non-lethal

  • 26% increased risk of heart failure

  • 31% increased risk of ischaemic heart disease, and

  • 19% increased risk of arrythmias.

Heart disease fatalities also showed increased risks, including

  • 28% increased risks of fatal heart attacks

  • 26% increased risks of fatal heart failure

  • 5% increased risk of fatal arrythmias, and

  • 21% increased risks of dying from overall heart disease.

Different therapies, different risks

An in-depth analysis of hormone treatment for prostate cancer showed that

  • the greatest risks were in the groups of men taking injections of gonadotropin releasing hormone agonists that reduce testosterone production (up to 7 times greater risk than with other therapies),

  • while those on anti-androgen therapy had the least risk of heart disease and no increase in fatalities.

Removal of the testicles also showed risks elevated up to 7 times higher than anti-androgen therapies, suggesting a possible protective role of testosterone for heart disease (Van Hemelrijck, Mieke et al, presentation to ECCO, European Cancer Congress Berlin, September 2009).

The authors recommend that physicians monitor their patients closely and according to the types of endocrine treatments used.

Scientists are also working with natural products like EGCG from green tea .

Can you really buy that doctor's guide to prostate cancer book for $0.01?

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This page last updated by Sharon Jones.

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