Prostate Cancer Treatment Tied to Death From Heart Problems

Androgen deprivation therapy may increase risk of death from heart problems in men with history of heart failure or heart attack

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Radiotherapy and other cancer treatments can offer hope to prostate cancer patients. But for some men, certain treatments may carry risks.

A recent study looked at the link between certain prostate cancer treatments and heart-related deaths. Researchers studied prostate cancer patients who received treatment with and without androgen-deprivation therapy (ADT).

The men with a history of congestive heart failure or heart attack who were treated with ADT were more likely to die of heart problems than those who did not receive ADT.

Although ADT can work for some prostate cancer patients, “a small subgroup of men who have significant heart disease could experience increased cardiac death on ADT,” said study leader Paul L. Nguyen, MD, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in a press release.

The researchers recruited 5,077 men with prostate cancer for the study. Prostate cancer starts in the prostate gland, which is a part of the male reproductive system.

Each of the men received brachytherapy, a type of radiation, and 1,521 also received ADT for about four months. The researchers followed up with the patients for almost five years.

Brachytherapy involves using radiation at the site of a cancer tumor to destroy cancer cells. Brachytherapy is sometimes used along with ADT, which involves surgery or medication used to decrease male hormones — primarily testosterone — that may contribute to prostate cancer cell growth in the body.

The study authors found that men with no history of heart problems did not have an increased risk of heart problems or death after ADT. The same was true for men with diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

However, men with a history of heart failure or heart attacks were more than three times more likely to die of heart problems if they underwent ADT — compared to the group that received only brachytherapy.

The authors of the study said doctors should assess patients' heart risks before prescribing ADT to treat prostate cancer.

The study was published Oct. 29 in BJU International.

The research was funded by Fitz’s Cancer Warriors, David and Cynthia Chapin, the Prostate Cancer Foundation, Hugh Simons and a grant from an anonymous family foundation. Two of the authors declared ties to Ferring Pharmaceuticals.

Review Date: 
October 28, 2014
Last Updated:
October 30, 2014