Side Effects Of
Prostate Cancer Androgen Hormone Therapy
Antiandrogens are medications such as flutamide, bicalutamide,
nilutamide, and cyproterone acetate which directly block the actions
of testosterone and DHT within prostate cancer cells. They are a
form of hormonal therapy which, in the treatment of prostate cancer,
makes use of such medications (otherwise orchiectomy) to block
prostate cancer cells from getting the dihydrotestosterone (DHT)
hormone that is required for their growth and spread.
This way these
androgen treatments cause the tumor to stop growing and even shrink.
Although they rarely cure the disease (since the cancers generally
become resistant after a while), they are a good way to slow the
disease down, especially when it is metastasizing.
hormone therapy is also called androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) or
androgen suppression therapy because of this. The androgens,
produced mainly in the testicles, stimulate prostate cancer cells to
grow; and as stated in the previous chapter, lowering their levels
in the patient often causes the cancer shrink or grow more slowly.
The side effects
prostate cancer androgen hormone therapy are pretty much the same as
those that are experienced if the patient had to undergo an
orchiectomy (surgical removal of the testicles to hinder
testosterone production). There isn’t as much of the psychological
impact of surgery, but the hot flashes are there just the same. It
is common for such a patient to begin to experience weight gain and
loss of libido within a year or more of the treatment, while in some
people it doesn’t even take that long.
One of the most
common side effects of androgen deprivation therapy is the
enlargement of the breasts (gynecomastia), a source of considerable
embarrassment to most men. Also, perhaps the most devastating
complication, impotence can make a man desire not to want to
continue living; and osteoporosis, a bone condition characterized by
a decrease in density, which also results in the bones being porous
and more easily fractured than normal bones.
releasing hormone) agonists may also cause increased bone pain from
metastatic cancer, and certain estrogens may even increase the risk
for cardiovascular disease and blood clots. Ketoconazole
specifically has been known to bear with it a certain risk of liver
damage to the patient, especially with prolonged use; and another
drug, aminoglutethimide, has been known to cause skin rashes. For
this reason, the doctor has to be fully apprised of the patient’s
medical history before administering such treatments.
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