A treatment method used since the 1940’s for men with prostate cancer may be linked with a higher risk of developing dementia. New research published in JAMA Oncology has found men who have prostate cancer and have been treated with androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) had two times the likelihood of being diagnosed with dementia within five years from the time treatment was started when compared to men who were not treated with ADT.
“I have deep concerns of treating men with androgen deprivation therapy,” said Dr. David Samadi. “My apprehension of using ADT stems from multiple studies showing other health risks men may face who have been prescribed it. This includes bone weakening, kidney damage, hip damage, impotence, cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer, accelerated aging, weight gain, fatigue and depression. Now it looks like dementia can be added to this list. This is simply not a good treatment method to be using.”
Researchers with the study analyzed medical records of 9,272 men with an average age of 67 being treated for prostate cancer between 1994-2013. The number of men treated with ADT was 1,826. The types of dementia assessed by the research team included Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and frontotemporal dementia.
Findings from the study showed men treated with ADT had an absolute dementia risk of 7.9 percent compared to 3.5 percent for men who did not receive ADT. Also found was that it didn’t matter what age the man was as the risk of dementia with ADT still doubled. Men who were 70 and older and had used ADT were at a 13.7 percent greater risk for dementia than men who had not used the treatment who were at a 6.6 percent greater risk. Men younger than 70 and treated with ADT had a 2.3 percent risk of dementia while men not treated with ADT had only a 1 percent risk for developing it.
“Previous studies have suggested that testosterone appears to protect brain cells,” said Dr. Samadi. “The goal of using ADT is to suppress testosterone made by the body in order to shrink or slow the prostate tumor. It does this by starving cancer cells of the androgens fueling its growth and spread. But when testosterone is suppressed, this removes an important method of defense against dementia.”
“This new study and other past studies concurring with this latest research should cause all doctors to pause before administering ADT,” stated Dr. Samadi. “It’s good we have more long-term cancer survivors than ever before but we need to be very careful of our choices of cancer therapies. ADT is not automatically for all men. Every doctor should have a thorough discussion with all men with prostate cancer of ADT’s risks and benefits. It’s a fine line to walk and as a doctor, I want to advise and guide each man I see which direction to take concerning the use of ADT.”
Patients newly diagnosed with prostate cancer can contact world renowned prostate cancer surgeon and urologic oncologist Dr. David Samadi, at 212-365-5000 for a free phone consultation or visit ProstateCancer911.com for additional information.Health articles