GREG'S LEGACY

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

Lee’s side effects of hormone therapy ADT

with 3 comments


Drug side effect

Drug side effects

I began hormone therapy soon after my diagnosis of PCA. My urologist began what is called combined androgen blockade. This consists of a four monthly injected implant LHRH analog agent in my case Eligard. This mainly targets the pituary gland that signals the testes to produce testosterone and the implant prevents this occurring (chemical castration).

I also take a daily anti androgen tablet (Anandron) which targets the adrenal glands that also produce testosterone.

Most readers will be aware of the reasons for the hormone treatment in the management of cancer. In my case I have been advised I will most likely be on this medication for the next three years, post my radiation treatment. (You little beauty)

A search through the web will give you a heap of information regarding the different hormone treatments available and the drugs including the known side effects you can expect to experience. The web will also give you a heap of information in forums from men affected by this treatment. As each person is different in their responses to treatments and there are so many different forms of hormone treatment there is vastly different points of view in the side effects experienced by these men.

I am attempting here to give one example of the effects of a standard hormone treatment on one person, namely me. For the past four months I have been battling a huge change in my quality of life and would like to sum up here my experience. As you will see it is not a happy place to be in for the moment.

Drug side effects

Drug Side Effects

The side effects that I experience can be divided into catagories.

Sexual: Although some of my problems can be attributed to my cancer and TURP procedure, the loss of libido is most notable. I cannot remember the last time I have been sexually aroused and I hardly even think about it although I do apologise to my wife on a regular basis and give her big meaningful hugs.

Physical: Extreme fatigue for most of the time. I am reasonably OK while siting doing nothing, but the moment I become active I experience weakness in the legs with a loss of co-ordination. I have no strength and find it difficult to walk any distance faster than a shuffle. My wife has more strength to lift any articles that have any weight. After walking for 50 meters or any exertion to complete a task I am puffing and panting like an asthmatic.

I constantly wear a light jacket as I frequently become cold and have difficulty maintaining body temperature. This effect is real weird as I think of it as my hot flushes but in reverse as I get cold easily?? My muscle tone is disapearing and replaced by obvious flab and I have developed a nice set of 12 year old boobs. My hair and beard though have become nice and soft. My testicles and penis have shrunk significantly. I find it difficult to drive any distance as I become overwhelmed with the desire to fall asleep and in the case of any extended travel when I am not able to drive, I sleep in the passenger seat from one destination to the next, makes the trip go faster.

A real interesting side effect is a visual one. I have extreme trouble changing from a bright environment to a darker one. If I go from a bright sunlit view to indoors I am almost blind for a while, not being able to adjust to the light difference. This has led me in a couple of memorable times of seeing the blue sky as pink and a green sometimes blue patch of light in the centre of my vision until I can adjust and this may take several minutes. This side effect is a known one for the anandron medication, but it is still weird and worrying. I also have problems sleeping normally at night, often I am dead tired at 6pm only to be wide awake at 1am???? I also suffer stiffness and pain in and around the pelvic area, thighs and lower back.

Mental: I have diminished motivation. Things that used to inspire me I no longer care about. I used to look forward to activities like fishing, sailing, projects around the house etc but not anymore. I have trouble verbalising ideas or offering opinions. I have trouble focusing and decision making. I have difficulty prioritising tasks and my spelling and memory has gone out the window. I experience depressive moments and emotional instability from time to time.

Systemic: While not experiencing any problems at present time I have read where I am vunerable to ostioporosis and cardiac problems.

That just about wraps it up for me apart from the following: I recognise that I will be dealing with these side effects for some time and I am actively trying to sort out a better way for me to deal with them. I suspect most of these side effects are a result of the anandron medication, and I am doing some investigations to try and prove this. I am also forcing myself ( I repeat forcing myself ) to carry out a solid exercise program to try and turn these effects around. Hopefully I will be able to report on these results in a post further down the track.

Lee aka Popeye

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3 Responses

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  1. I never realised how many side effects you can experience from the hormone therapy. My uncle had the hormone injections for the start of his prostate cancer journey and I never heard about any of his side effects. Thank you for sharing this.

    Cassy

    12 August 2012 at 9:46 am

    • Cassy: Thank you for your response it is good to have feedback that someone out there is actually reading your post on a subject. I decided to write this one for others to see they are not alone in the side effects that can be experienced. Each cancer and each person will have different experiences. I mentioned in this article that I experience cold flushes as opposed to hot flushes, Last week I happened to attended a local meeting of the Australian prostate cancer support group. During this meeting I met another man who is in remission but he stated to me he experienced the same thing when he was on hormone treatment. I was over the moon as until our meeting I have been unable to find anyone else who has experienced the same side effect as me, everywhere else it is described as hot flushes. In any cancer treatment for any type of cancer all treatments have side effects and this can be seen in particular with chemo. Any treatment for cancer causes compromise in quality of life, surgery being only one treatment. As I plod along my path I particularly treasure other patients insights, suggestions and tribulations. In my own way in my posts I am trying to offer the same things. Cassy I see by a previous response you lost your uncle in his struggle to beat this thing. My heartfelt condolences to you and your family
      Cheers
      Lee aka popeye

      Lee Gallagher

      13 August 2012 at 10:34 pm

  2. Good luck and thank you for sharing.


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