OCT 22, 2016 06:19 AM PDT

Study Links Prostate Cancer Treatment to Dementia

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

More often than not, doctors have to weigh a treatment with the potential side effects and risks to the patient’s health. Now results from a new a study could make the decision more challenging in regards to men’s reproductive and mental health. In particular, the study found that androgen deprivation therapy, a common treatment for prostate cancer, have more than the twice the risk of developing dementia later on.
 

 
The hormone testosterone is known to stimulate the growth and proliferation of prostate tumors. Thus, an effective and widely used anticancer technique is to lower the levels of this androgen. Indeed, androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) or androgen suppression therapy (AST) work to reduce testosterone and shrink the prostate tumor. 
 
But the treatment that’s often the first-line of defense for men may exact a big price on their mental health.
 
In a retrospective study of more nearly 10,000 men with prostate cancer, a team at Stanford University found that 7.9 percent of men developed dementia within five years of treatment. This is more than twice the dementia risk for men not treated with testosterone-lowering drugs (at 3.5 percent).
 
The results support a previous study, also by the same authors, who found that ADT for prostate cancer was associated with Alzheimer’s disease. This time around, the team opted to cast for a wider association net: "So instead of looking for Alzheimer's and dementia separately, we decided to aggregate them into a higher-level category -- all dementias and cognitive decline," said Nigam Shah, associate professor of biomedical informatics research at Stanford, and the study’s senior author.
 
Although the study does not claim any causal effect between ADT and dementia, they say perhaps it’s a good idea to evaluate the need for ADT on an individual level. "The risk is real and, depending on the prior dementia history of the patient, we may want to consider alternative treatment,” said Shah.
 
Furthermore, Shah also pointed to a prostate cancer study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, in which researchers say some early stage prostate cancers may benefit more from active surveillance. The astonishing punch-line result – that invasive therapies don’t necessarily extend survival rate – gave pause to a doctor’s natural instincts to drug, cut, and treat.


 
Image credit: Pixabay.com



In the same way, Shah hopes the current results will help patients and doctors make more informed decisions about the best course of action for themselves. In the same vein, the authors caution that patients already on ADT should evaluate their risks with their doctors before making any changes.
 
“Whether or not to use ADT is still a risk-benefit discussion with a physician,” said Kevin Nead, the study’s first author. “This study is important and urges us toward future research, but I don’t think it should impact clinical practice.”
 
Additional sources: Stanford University Medical Center

About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
OCT 17, 2019
Drug Discovery & Development
OCT 17, 2019
Anti-cancer Drug Disguises as Fat
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS), a new drug-delivery system disguises as fat in order to outsmart tum...
OCT 17, 2019
Health & Medicine
OCT 17, 2019
Does Cuttlefish Ink Hold a Cure for Cancer?
Using nanoparticles to deliver cancer-fighting compounds directly into tumors has been a hot research topic for the past few years. According to Lisa Ayga...
OCT 17, 2019
Cell & Molecular Biology
OCT 17, 2019
Insight Into a DNA Damage Sensor That Orchestrates Repair
Simple cell functions like division or metabolism can lead to DNA damage, which can also occur because of normal exposure to the sun or noxious agents....
OCT 17, 2019
Drug Discovery & Development
OCT 17, 2019
Leukemia Drug Effective for Treating Childhood Brain Cancer
Scientists at the University of California-San Diego have found that a chronic myeloid leukemia drug was found to treat medulloblastoma in mouse models mor...
OCT 17, 2019
Cancer
OCT 17, 2019
Electronic "nose" sniffs out the best cancer treatment
Can you imagine an electronic device that is capable of figuring out which lung cancer patients will respond best to immunotherapy? If so, now try to imagi...
OCT 17, 2019
Cancer
OCT 17, 2019
Blood test to detect brain cancer
Research published recently in the journal Nature Communications, a new study details the potential of a blood test that is capable of identifying brain ca...
Loading Comments...