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Alzheimer’s may be risk for older prostate cancer patients

AP
Published Jul 8, 2019, 10:49 am IST
Updated Jul 8, 2019, 10:49 am IST
Dementia tied to hormone-blocking prostate cancer treatment.
Hormone-blocking treatment can include testes removal to reduce levels of testosterone, which fuels prostate cancer growth. (Photo: Representational/Pixabay)
 Hormone-blocking treatment can include testes removal to reduce levels of testosterone, which fuels prostate cancer growth. (Photo: Representational/Pixabay)

Washington: Alzheimer’s disease may be a risk for older prostate cancer patients given hormone-blocking treatment, a large, US government-funded analysis found. Previous evidence has been mixed on whether the treatment might be linked with mental decline. But experts say the new results stand out because they’re from a respected national cancer database and the men were tracked for a long time — eight years on average.

Among 154,000 older patients, 13 per cent who received hormone-blocking treatment developed Alzheimer’s, compared with 9 per cent who had other treatment or chose no therapy, the study found. The risk for dementia from strokes or other causes was higher: It was diagnosed in 22 per cent of those who got hormone-blocking treatment, versus 16% of the other patients.

 

The results, using perhaps one of the largest and most reliable databases, suggest there truly may be a connection, said Dr Sumanta Pal, a prostate cancer expert with the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Pal was not involved in the study.

The analysis from University of Pennsylvania researchers was published Friday in JAMA Network Open. The results aren’t proof but experts say they underscore the importance of discussing potential risks and benefits when choosing cancer treatment.

The researchers analysed data from a National Cancer Institute database of cancer cases and treatment and covers almost 30 per cent of the US population. The study focused on men in their 70s, on average, with local or advanced prostate cancer diagnosed between 1996 and 2003. They were followed until 2013. Medicare records indicated dementia or Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

 

Hormone-blocking treatment can include testes removal to reduce levels of testosterone, which fuels prostate cancer growth. But it more typically involves periodic drug injections or implants that achieve the same result.

Most US men who receive this treatment are in their 70s or older. It’s sometimes used in men who might not be healthy enough to tolerate other cancer treatments including surgery to remove the prostate and radiation.

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