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Prostate Cancer Medications Might Increase Risk Of Heart-Related Deaths In Men With Cardiovascular Problem

Update Date: Oct 29, 2014 10:34 AM EDT

Certain prostate cancer medications might increase the risk of dying from heart-related causes in men with congestive heart failure or prior heart attacks, according to a new study. 

Findings of the study may help doctors and patients weigh the benefits and risks of the drugs. 

Androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), which reduces levels of male hormones in the body to prevent them from stimulating cancer cells, is a mainstay of treatment for prostate cancer. However, despite its anticancer effects, ADT has been linked to heart problems such as increased risk of diabetes, coronary heart disease, heart attacks and sudden cardiac death. 

"While androgen deprivation therapy can be a lifesaving drug for men with prostate cancer and significantly increase the cure rates when used with radiation for aggressive disease, this study also raises the possibility that a small subgroup of men who have significant heart disease could experience increased cardiac death on ADT," said lead researcher Paul Nguyen, MD, of the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center in Boston, in the press release.

"I would still say that for men with significant heart problems, we should try to avoid ADT when it is not necessary-such as for men with low-risk disease or men receiving ADT only to shrink the prostate prior to radiation. However, for men with high-risk disease, in whom the prostate-cancer benefits of ADT likely outweigh any potential cardiac harms, ADT should be given even if they have heart problems, but the patient should be followed closely by a cardiologist to ensure that he is being carefully watched and optimized from a cardiac perspective."

The study has been published in the journal BJU International. 

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