Hormone therapy and radiation may help with certain prostate cancer

In the journals

Published: December, 2020

Men with intermediate-risk prostate cancer may benefit from undergoing androgen-deprivation therapy (ADT) depending on how far the cancer has progressed, says a study published online Sept. 9, 2020, by JAMA Network Open. The results could help men better weigh risk versus reward when choosing their prostate cancer treatment options.

The study looked at men with intermediate-risk prostate cancer. This is the mid-range of prostate cancer in terms of aggressiveness between low-risk (which often doesn't need treatment) and high-risk cancer. There are two categories of intermediate-risk cancer: favorable intermediate-risk (FIR) and the more advanced unfavorable intermediate-risk (UIR).

In the study, about 1,000 men with either UIR or FIR underwent radiation. Half also received four months of ADT — a hormone therapy that reduces androgens, such as testosterone, in the body and stops them from fueling prostate cancer cells. But it also can cause side effects, such as hot flashes, fatigue, mood swings, low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, loss of muscle mass, and weight gain.

After 15 years, those with FIR who had taken ADT lived, on average, about as long as those who did not have ADT. However, the UIR men who'd had ADT lived about eight months longer than the non-ADT group. Adding ADT also reduced the risk of cancer spreading in UIR men, but not in FIR men.

Image: skynesher/Getty Images

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.