"I pretty much feel similarly," Tsai said. "The editorial emphasizes that this is a preliminary study, and clinical trials are the gold standard. And we need one to confirm our findings."
Tsai, currently working as a radiation oncologist with Radiation Oncology Consultants in Princeton, N.J., said he doesn't want prostate cancer patients to view androgen-deprivation therapy with alarm.
"I don't think patients should be afraid," he said. "This is just what I'd call emerging data, and while the relative increase in risk for heart disease is large, in absolute terms the risk is still very small."
Dr. Nelson Neal Stone, a clinical professor of urology and radiation oncology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, said the exact mechanism by which ADT might boost the risk for cardiac complications remains undefined, despite a widespread appreciation for the array of problems that accompany the metabolic syndrome.
In that light, he suggested that physicians should target the onset of the life-threatening syndrome as well as the life-prolonging treatment.
"The message is that we need to start paying attention to our patients' general health when we put them on hormonal therapy," he said. "And perhaps we should be putting them on a diet to control for the potential side effects of the therapy, and the serious impact it can have on their health."
"We can't take away the hormones altogether because there's a major benefit to that treatment," Stone added. "But we need to develop a good strategy for dealing with the negative consequences that occur."
To learn more about prostate cancer and its treatment, visit the American Cancer Society.
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