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Prostate Cancer Treatment Questioned

A new study is casting doubt on an increasingly popular therapy for prostate cancer -- the second most common cancer and second most common cause of cancer death among men.

Typically, men who are diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer undergo surgery or radiation or simply keep an eye on the cancer to see if it progresses. Often, prostate cancer never causes problems. But doctors are increasingly using a therapy called "androgen deprivation therapy." It usually involves giving men drugs to cut their levels of testosterone, which fuels the growth of prostate cancer.

A survey conducted in 1999 to 2001 found that the treatment has become the second most common approach, after surgery, for prostate cancer. However, its effectiveness is unclear.

In the new study, Grace Lu-Yao of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center in New Jersey and her colleagues studied 19,271 men age 66 and older who were diagnosed with prostate cancer between 1992 and 2002 before their cancer had spread, including 7,867 who received the hormone treatment.

Compared with those who received other types of treatment, such as "watchful waiting," those who underwent the hormone therapy were actually slightly more likely to die from prostate cancer in the next decade. Nearly 20 percent of those who underwent the treatment died from prostate cancer compared to about 17 percent of those who did not. In addition, their overall chances of surviving over the next 10 years were no better, the researchers reported in this week's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Because the therapy can cause serious side effects, such as osteoporosis, hot flashes and impotence, the researchers conclude doctors should think carefully before recommending the approach. It's unclear if the findings would also apply to younger men.

By Rob Stein  |  July 10, 2008; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Cancer  
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Comments

Read this blurb summary with a grain of salt, and go check out the study itself. Androgen deprivation is a a well-studied and effective adjunct to conventional treatment of prostate cancer (such as surgery or radiation therapy). This study does not call into question, as it DOES NOT ADDRESS androgen deprivation therapy as an add-on therapy, as that has already been proven to reduce cancer mortality rates. What this study examined is what happens when you treat prostate cancer with androgen deprivation therapy alone, without the conventional therapy.

Posted by: Jason | July 10, 2008 10:56 AM | Report abuse

But doctors are increasingly using a therapy called "androgen deprivation therapy." It usually involves giving men drugs to cut their levels of testosterone, which fuels the growth of prostate cancer.

So they want to reduce our testosterone and turn us all into James Taylor? No thanks!

Posted by: Ed Larkin | July 10, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Since everyone is different, your results can and will vary.

My grandfather died because treatment of his prostate cancer caused other cancers, including breast cancer linked to the hormone treatment mentioned here. Now I will say that he had lived almost 10 years after diagnosis and we have no idea how long he had it before then, we guess another 5 years.

He was glad his insurance allowed him the opportunity to try all forms of prostate cancer treatment. He did not expect to live cancer free or to die of old age, he did expect the doctors to have learned from his case.

Take all medical studies with a grain of salt and exercise common sense. Medical study results are like Michigan weather, wait a bit and things will change.

Posted by: Sierra | July 10, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

My husband's adeno Prostate Cancer morphed into Neuro-Endocrine Small Cell= That little jewel of information was ignored along with hundereds pelvic-chest tumors by the Portland VA Medical Center. My husband died, of course Beware PVAMC!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2008 8:56 AM | Report abuse

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