Prostate Cancer Treatment May Cause Dementia
There’s a seemingly ever-growing body of research about prostate cancer, as new studies are being published quite frequently at the moment. However, while some of the news is very encouraging, other findings are proving to be devastating.
According to a new study, treating prostate cancer can cause other equally serious problems down the line for some men. These men may unfortunately be diagnosed with dementia as soon as five years after their treatment. The study refers to men who undergo hormonal therapy in order to lower their levels of testosterone. According to its findings, men who do go through with this kind of treatment are twice as likely to develop dementia as those who were treated differently.
Testosterone levels are usually considered healthy in men when they are high. However, higher testosterone levels tend to stimulate the growth of prostate tumors, which is why hormonal therapy is commonly used to lower men’s testosterone levels and thus treat prostate cancer by inhibiting the growth of the tumors.
Although this kind of treatment has been used for a long time, and an estimated four million American men are taking Androgen Deprivation Therapy (ADT) at this time, the findings of this study only corroborate a mounting body of research.
Researchers had already established a link between ADT and Alzheimer’s, which the author points out is usually confused with other forms of dementia. For this reason, scientists from Stanford as well as the University of Pennsylvania’s schools of Medicine made the executive decision of including a larger scope of dementia and cognitive decline conditions in the current study. Enlarging the scope of the study does not seem, however, to have significantly altered their findings.
For the current project, researchers analyzed 10,000 unidentified medical records of patients diagnosed with prostate cancer. Among them there were 1,829 patients who had received androgen deprivation therapy, 7.9 percent of whom developed dementia in the next five years. In contrast, only 3.5 percent of those who did not receive ADT treatment experienced the same outcome.
The severity of the risk might depend on each patient's history, but the study’s findings still point to a link between ADT and dementia.
Given this information, it seems natural for the medical community to start pushing for new courses of treatment to be prescribed, particularly since new research shows that the death rates among those who are treated using active monitoring, radiation or surgery are in fact quite insignificant.