Prostate cancer treatments increase heart disease risk

Hormone therapy for prostate cancer increases men's risk of dying from heart disease, but the additional risk varies almost seven-fold for different treatments, a King's College London study has found.

Therapy for prostate cancer can increase the risk of heart disease
Therapy for prostate cancer can increase the risk of heart disease

At the European Cancer Organisation - European Society for Medical Oncology (ECCO-ESMO) conference in Berlin last week, the researchers said their findings showed it was important to take heart disease into account before starting prostate cancer treatment.

Mieke Van Hemelrijck and colleagues examined data from 30,000 men in Sweden who had been given endocrine therapy as a primary treatment for prostate cancer. The patients were compared with 50,000 other men in Sweden with prostate cancer who had not undergone endocrine therapy.

The researchers looked at the incidence and risk of death from ischaemic heart disease, MI, heart failure and arrhythmia across the two groups.

There was an increased risk from all the types of endocrine treatment studied, namely orchiectomy, gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists and anti-androgen monotherapy. However, the additional risks varied considerably across therapies.

For instance, the increased risk of heart failure was 5 per cent for anti-androgens, but 34 per cent for GnRH agonists.

The additional risk for ischaemic heart disease was 13 per cent for anti-androgens, but 30 per cent for GnRH agonists.

Further studies would now be needed to verify the association and look at what causes it, she added.

'Then we would know how best to use these treatments according to a patient's history of various types of heart disease and whether it is a good idea to give patients heart medicines to counteract these side- effects,' she said.

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