Hormones Delay Prostate Cancer Growth
Short-Term Androgen Deprivation Therapy Has Long-Term Benefits
WebMD News Archive
Jan. 2, 2008 -- Short-term hormone therapy to lower testosterone levels can
significantly delay the progression of prostate
cancer in some patients treated with radiation, a study shows.
Just four months of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) before and during
radiation was found to slow cancer growth by as much as
eight years in patients with high-risk, locally advanced disease. The patients
had either declined or were not considered candidates for longer-term hormonal
treatment, researcher Mack Roach III, MD, of the University of California San
Francisco, tells WebMD.
The findings were reported today in the American Society of Clinical
Oncology (ASCO) publication Journal of Clinical Oncology.
ADT and Heart Risk
The researchers also found no evidence of an increase in heart risk among
the hormone-treated patients, compared with patients treated with radiation
This finding should allay concerns about the treatment raised by a recent
study, Roach tells WebMD.
In mid-October, Harvard researchers reported that short-term ADT prior to
prostate cancer surgery was associated with a more than twofold increase in
death from cardiovascular causes in men with localized disease.
That study did not include patients treated with ADT and radiation, and
there is no clinical evidence of an increase in cardiovascular risk in these
patients, Roach says.
"Our findings clearly show that the benefits [of short-term hormone
treatment] outweigh the risks in this group of patients," Roach tells
WebMD. "If there is an increase in heart
attack risk, we didn't see it in this long-term follow-up."
8-Year Delay in Progression
The goal of ADT is to lower levels of the male sex hormones, which fuel the
growth of prostate cancer.
Long-term hormone suppression of two years or more has been shown to improve
survival in prostate cancer patients treated with radiation who are considered
high risk due to high tumor burden, high prostate-specific antigen (PSA)
scores, or other prognostic indicators.
But long-term ADT is also associated with an increased risk for
osteoporosis, diabetes, and other health problems.
In an effort to assess the risks vs. benefits of shorter-term ATD, Roach and
colleagues followed 456 older men with high-risk prostate cancer for 13