"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Prostate Cancer: How Long Should Hormonal Therapy Last?

Hormonal therapy is the mainstay of prostate cancer treatment, but it surely has serious unwanted effects. Men who take these testosterone-blocking drugs have an increased risk of fatigue, lack of muscle mass, and heart problems. Therefore, doctors and patients alike are encouraged to make use of hormonal therapy only so long as vital.

But how long is enough? A recent study Provides the vital clarity.

Study process and results

Researchers working at 10 hospitals in Spain enrolled 355 men with newly diagnosed prostate cancer that was still confined to the prostate and seminal vesicles (adjoining glands that produce semen). The men were divided into two groups: one group received a brief course of hormonal therapy for 4 months, and the opposite group was treated for an extended period of 24 months. All patients were also treated with high-dose radiation.

After 10 years, only men who were initially diagnosed with high-risk prostate cancer (prostate cancer with biological characteristics that predict aggressive spread) benefited from long-term treatment. Notably, 67.2% of those men avoided the next rise in prostate-specific antigen (PSA) that indicates worsening cancer. In contrast, 53.7% of men at high risk of cancer who received 4 months of hormonal therapy avoided the same rise in PSA. Importantly, 78.5% of high-risk men who received long-term hormonal therapy were still alive 10 years later, compared with 67% of high-risk men treated with hormonal therapy for 4 months.

In men with intermediate-risk prostate cancer, the duration of hormonal therapy made little difference. Only 4 men with intermediate-risk cancer developed advanced cancer that had spread elsewhere within the body. Two got here from the short-term treatment group, and two from the group that received hormonal therapy for twenty-four months. And after 10 years, not one of the intermediate-risk patients died of prostate cancer, no matter how long the hormonal therapy treatments lasted.

Expert opinions

“In terms of the full duration of treatment, I think there's probably a happy medium between four and 24 months for some patients with certain high-risk characteristics. I encourage patients to discuss this with their doctors. discuss this option. However, these studies do not answer the question of whether all intermediate-risk patients need four months of hormonal therapy, and we should continue to refine our approach to this general scenario. “