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As FDA Eyes Prostate Cancer Drugs, Experts Urge Caution
Date:5/4/2010

Hormonal meds linked to heart risks, but men should not abandon them

TUESDAY, May 4 (HealthDay News) -- When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Monday it was investigating possible links between widely used hormonal prostate cancer drugs and an slight rise in risk for diabetes and heart disease, thousands of men who rely on these drugs to extend their lives were left wondering what to do next.

According to experts, the main advice to those men at the moment is to keep taking the drugs, but use them with caution.

The FDA says it will review a widely used class of prostate cancer drugs called gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists. These include medications such as Eligard, Lupron, Synarel, Trelstar, Vantas, Viadur, Zoladex and several generic products.

All of these drugs suppress the production of testosterone, a hormone thought to help spur the growth of prostate cancer. Hormone-based therapy is not a cure for prostate cancer, because tumors can eventually become resistant, but it can extend survival.

"Clearly these drugs are needed for the treatment of prostate cancer," stressed prostate cancer expert Dr. Mark Soloway, chair of urology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

"Lowering the male hormone is by far the most effective treatment," he said, but at the same time, however, "there should be more judgment in prescribing GnRH agonists."

Soloway believes that any increased risk for heart disease and diabetes would be due to a lowering of testosterone. "At this point it makes sense to use hormone therapy when necessary, but not for everyone that has prostate cancer," he said.

Another expert, Dr. Nelson Neal Stone, a clinical professor of urology and radiation oncology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, agreed that, "there is evidence that low testosterone can induce metabolic syndrome."

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