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Drug Eases Hormone Therapy Side Effect in Men

Study Shows Medroxyprogesterone Treats Hot Flashes From Treatment of Prostate Cancer
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Dec. 7, 2009 -- Treating hot flashes in men undergoing prostate cancer treatment can be tricky, but a new study suggests medroxyprogesterone could be the new gold standard in hot-flash treatment for men.

Hormone therapy, or androgen deprivation therapy, which lowers the level of the male sex hormone androgen to prevent the growth of prostate cancer cells, is the most common treatment for advanced prostate cancer. Hot flashes are a common side effect of this hormonal therapy, experienced by up to 80% of men undergoing prostate cancer treatment.

Although there are several hormonal and non-hormonal treatments to combat hot flashes in men, researchers say that until now they have not been compared in men undergoing prostate cancer treatment.

In a study published in The Lancet Oncology, researchers in France evaluated the effectiveness of three hot-flash medications -- cyproterone, medroxyprogesterone, and the antidepressant venlafaxine -- in men who had 14 or more hot flashes per week after six months of hormonal prostate cancer treatment.

The 311 men were randomly divided into three groups and treated with one of the three hot-flash treatments for 12 weeks. Participants were asked to report the frequency and severity of hot flashes at weeks four, eight, and 12 during the study.

The results showed all three drugs reduced the frequency of hot flashes, but the hormonal treatments, cyproterone and medroxyprogesterone, were more effective than venlafaxine at combating hot flashes throughout the study.

The median reduction in number of daily hot flashes after four weeks of treatment was 47% for venlafaxine, 95% for cyproterone, and 88% for medroxyprogesterone.

However, researcher Jacques Irani of University Hospital in Poitiers, France, and colleagues say cyproterone is a recognized treatment for prostate cancer and could interfere with other hormone-based treatments. Therefore, medroxyprogesterone could be considered the new standard in treating hot flashes in men undergoing hormone therapy for prostate cancer.

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