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Hormone Drugs Might Not Raise Heart-Related Deaths in Prostate Patients
Date:12/6/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Dec. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Men with prostate cancer who are being treated with hormone therapy do not appear to be at increased risk of dying from heart disease, according to a large new review of evidence.

Hormone therapy called "androgen deprivation therapy" is a basic of prostate cancer treatment. Several previous studies found that the therapy might increase the risk of cardiac events or even death from prostate cancer.

Growing concern led to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration warning and a consensus statement from multiple medical societies, said Dr. Paul Nguyen. But his new research -- an analysis of eight randomized clinical trials of more than 4,000 patients, followed for about a decade -- reached a different conclusion.

"For the majority of men with aggressive prostate cancer, androgen deprivation therapy was associated with better survival and no increased risk of dying from cardiovascular causes," said Nguyen, the director of prostate brachytherapy at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

However, he added, "It should be noted that men in randomized trials tend to be healthier than the average patient, and it's still possible that those with underlying heart disease, such as a history of a prior heart attack or congestive heart failure, could still be harmed by androgen deprivation therapy."

The FDA warning and consensus statement "may have led some men who would have benefited from androgen deprivation therapy to avoid it for concern that it would cause cardiovascular death," Nguyen said. "The pendulum may have swung too far away from androgen deprivation therapy, which has been shown to save lives in men with aggressive prostate cancer. This study should be reassuring to the vast majority of men who need androgen deprivation therapy for their prostate cancer."

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