A recent study suggests that prostate cancer survivors have higher risk of dying from heart disease than from their cancer. Researchers believe that a common form of treatment prostate cancer patients need to undergo may up their risk of cardiovascular disease.
Scientists at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, found that androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) may promote the emergence of several risk factors that make the patient more likely to develop a cardiovascular disease or even die from such condition.
In the U.S., cardiovascular disease is already the leading cause of death in middle-aged men. So, any risk factor that could raise the odds of developing the disease in men is of particular concern.
Study authors explained that ADT mainly influences testosterone levels to stymie cancer growth or force tumors to shrink. Dr. Alicia Morgans, lead author of the study, recently stated that treating a prostate cancer patient or a cardiovascular disease patient is difficult because while doctors may try to treat one condition, other parts of the body may be affected.
During the research, Vanderbilt researchers looked for several indicators in prostate cancer survivors that may foretell their risk of developing or dying from heart disease. So, the team monitored study participants’ blood pressure and cholesterol levels, diet, physical activity, diabetes (if any), smoking habits, and aspirin intake.
The findings were recently published in the medical journal Circulation.
Study authors believe that the odds of a prostate cancer survivor to die from a cardiovascular event may be greatly reduced if they are educated on the above mentioned indicators. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network is currently working on a program to train cancer survivors into lowering their risk of dying from other conditions than cancer.
Dr. Eric Shinohara, co-author of the recent study and head of the Vanderbilt Radiation Oncology Clinic, explained that the therapy used to treat prostate cancer may boost the risk of being affected by other life-threatening conditions including type 2 diabetes, heart attack or stroke.
Dr. Shinohara firmly believes that a collaborative effort between cardiologists, urologists, and oncologists, or cancer experts, could considerably lower prostate cancer survivors’ mortality risk. All these experts could join forces to detect patients that benefit from hormone-based therapy and those who don’t. This may also help patients at risk to better protect their cardiovascular systems after ADT.
In the U.S., more than 220,000 men learn they have prostate cancer every year. After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the second most common form of cancer in U.S. men.
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