Common Hormonal Treatment for Early Prostate Cancer May Pose Cardiac Risk

I have been on a vacation but am now resuming publishing pertinent posts.

As has been written before, several potential side effects accompany hormonal therapy for prostate cancer. A MedlinePlus e mail received today from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Library of Medicine discussed the potential heart risk posed by early hormone suppression treatment of prostate cancer. The take-home message from a new study is that “patients with localized prostate cancer should be followed to minimize the health effects of androgen-deprivation therapy on the cardiovascular system,” said study author Reina Haque, a researcher with the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation. The advice given is that “patients should consider heart-healthy lifestyle changes, and physicians should actively monitor the patient’s health for early signs of heart disease.”

In recent years, there’s been an expansion in use of hormone-suppressing treatment for prostate cancer. The treatment was previously restricted to advanced prostate tumors, but now it’s being given to a growing number of men with early stage prostate cancer that has not spread to other parts of the body. However, the safety and effectiveness of androgen-deprivation therapy for these men hasn’t been investigated, the study authors said.

In the new study, researchers assessed outcomes for more than 7,600 men with early stage prostate cancer. The investigators tracked the men for up to 12 years, starting when they were diagnosed between 1998 and 2008. The researchers factored in certain heart risk factors — things such as overweight/obesity, history of smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure or if they required heart medications. The study found the men with early stage prostate cancer who did not already have heart disease, but who received hormone-depleting treatments had an 81 percent higher risk for heart failure. Meanwhile, those who already had heart disease when they received the anti-hormone treatment also had a greater risk for heart rhythm problems, including a 44 percent increased risk of an irregular heartbeat. These men were also three times more likely to develop “conduction disorder,” which occurs when electrical impulses to the heart are interrupted.

The findings allow men with localized prostate cancer to consider the positive and negative effects of androgen-deprivation therapy and discuss it with their physicians. “If they move forward with the therapy, patients should work with their physicians to adjust their lifestyle to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.”



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