Specialising in the human experience of Living with prostate cancer – warts and all

Hormone Holidays

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Hormone Therapy and Dementia | Brain Blogger

Hormone Therapy is turning you into a girl

(HealthDay News) — Men with metastatic prostate cancer who undergo hormone-deprivation therapy sometimes take breaks from the treatment to minimize its often difficult side effects.

Hormone therapy or ADT is effective in 85% of cases for up to 27 months when it is no longer effective.  In my case, the side effects were so severe that I took a hormone holiday when my psa reached its nadir (0.1).  After 18 months, my psa started to rise and we started the ADT again.  This time it didn’t work and it was stopped after six months.  Without the break, I do not know if I would have survived the side effects.

What we need to learn is that all of the symptoms we suffer under hormone therapy are not caused by the cancer.  Rather they are caused by the hormone therapy.

Consider this!  These symptoms were not present before starting the hormone therapy, were they?

However, a major new study found that for men with cancer involving “minimal spread,” overall survival was 7.1 years on continuous androgen-deprivation therapy compared to only 5.2 years on intermittent treatment.

Patients with extensive disease did better.  They had median overall survival times of 4.4 years on continuous therapy and 5.2 years on intermittent therapy. (link)

Overall, the men who got the stop-and-start treatment were exposed to about half the total amount of hormonal therapy as the men in the continuous group, the researchers said.  That means they also avoided half the side effects of continuous therapy and regained their quality of life.

Trial researchers also compared quality-of-life measures across the two study arms during the first 15 months following patient randomization, including measures of sexual function (impotence and libido), physical and emotional function, and energy level. They found improved sexual function in men who received intermittent therapy as compared to those on continuous therapy. (link)

Hormone treatment starves and halts the growth of cancer cells. The idea behind intermittent treatment is that it’s given until symptoms of the cancer are gone and PSA — prostate-specific antigen — levels have dropped to normal. Then treatment is stopped, the patient feels better and PSA levels are monitored until the cancer starts to return. At that point, treatment resumes. Read more:

For patients with extensive cancer spread, it’s best to discuss treatment options with a doctor before embarking on either one of the regimens, she said.

Written by Greg Naylor

16 June 2012 at 12:00 am

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