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Hot Flashes in Men Treated for Prostate Cancer Reduced by Non-hormonal Drug

CHICAGO -- Low doses of a drug used to prevent epileptic seizures and treat nerve pain caused by shingles, considerably reduces hot flashes in patients undergoing anti-hormonal treatment, or androgen-deprivation therapy, for prostate cancer. This is the result of a study carried out by North Central Cancer Treatment Group researchers based at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

In presenting results of a 223-patient, placebo-controlled Phase III clinical trial at the 2007 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Mayo Clinic investigators report that the drug gabapentin reduced the frequency and the intensity of hot flashes by up to 46 percent in men receiving androgen deprivation therapy. The men who received gabapentin reported fewer side effects than those receiving a placebo tablet, the researchers say.

Many men undergoing androgen deprivation therapy suffer debilitating hot flashes, but until now the only therapeutic agents proven to provide relief are androgen-originating hormones, some of which can actually fuel their cancer. So any symptom relief these men get comes with worry about new cancer growth.

"To my knowledge, this is the first nonhormonal treatment of hot flashes in men, where results from a placebo-controlled trial are positive enough to support that a nonhormonal medication can be used to help some of our patients," says the studys lead investigator, Mayo Clinic oncologist Charles Loprinzi, M.D.

He adds that hot flashes in patients receiving androgen-deprivation therapy can be quite severe. Overall, between 60 percent and 80 percent of these patients suffer from hot flashes, Dr. Loprinzi says, and in this clinical trial, about 40 percent of participants had hot flashes for longer than nine months and a similar percentage reported having at least 10 hot flashes a day.

Because gabapentin works on the central nervous system, its function may be similar to some anti
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