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Study Points to Blood Clot Risk with Prostate Cancer Hormone Therapy

Dec 5, 2011 | Parker Waichman LLP

A troubling new study indicates that men who undergo hormone therapy to treat prostate cancer may face a higher risk of developing a dangerous blood clot.  The study, published in the journal Cancer, raises questions about the appropriateness of hormone therapy in men who have all but the most serious and aggressive types of prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer hormone therapy, also known as androgen deprivation, works by blocking the production of testosterone, which is believed to fuel the growth of prostate tumors.  The potential side effects of androgen deprivation include weight gain, bone thinning, hot flashes and erectile dysfunction.

According to a report from Reuters, prostate cancer hormone therapy was once only used for men whose cancer had traveled outside the prostate.  It is also beneficial for men with aggressive forms of cancer.  But some doctors started giving hormonal therapy as a first-line treatment to men newly diagnosed with tumors that were still confined to the prostate.  In those cases, its benefit is unclear, especially considering that many prostate tumors are slow growing and won't threaten a victim's life.

This new study involved 154,000 older men with prostate cancer. Of the 58,000 on hormone therapy, 15 percent developed a blood clot in the veins, arteries or lungs over roughly four years.  Of those who did not undergo the therapy, on seven percent suffered a blood clot.  Of the men who developed a blood clot, a quarter ended up in the hospital, according to Reuters.

“By no means is this a trivial risk," said lead author Dr. Behfar Ehdaie, of Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

In their conclusion, the study authors advised that men considering prostate cancer hormone therapy should have their blood clot risk assessed, and be counseled regarding the risks and benefits of the treatment.


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