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A new worry for prostate patients

September 25, 2006|From Times wire reports

Hormone therapy used to treat prostate cancer that has already spread might save patients from cancer but raise the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Writing in the Sept. 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers at Harvard Medical School said they examined the records of 73,000 men ages 66 and older who were diagnosed with local or regional prostate cancer.

Men with early prostate cancer can be treated surgically, with radiation or with radioactive seeds implanted carefully around the prostate. If the cancer has spread, they are often treated to block production of the testosterone, which can fuel prostate cancer. This is done either by removal of the testes, or more commonly, by regular injections of a gonadotropin-releasing hormone or GnRH agonist drug.

"Our study found that men with local or regional prostate cancer receiving a GnRH agonist had a 44% higher risk of developing diabetes and a 16% higher risk of developing coronary heart disease than men who were not receiving hormone therapy," said Dr. Nancy Keating, an assistant professor of healthcare policy and medicine at Harvard Medical School, who led the study.

They said doctors need to monitor such men closely to make sure they do not trade one cause of death for another.

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