Hormone therapy for prostate cancer may affect memory

July 28th, 2008 - 3:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 28 (IANS) Hormone deprivation therapy, a common mode of treatment in prostate cancer, is likely to affect the patient’s ability to recall and concentrate. A recent study on the subject indicated that clinicians and patients should be aware of these potential effects and watch closely for their appearance.

For years, hormone deprivation therapy or androgen depletion therapy (ADT) has been used as an effective treatment for prostate cancer because hormones like testosterone drive the growth of prostate cancer cells.

One way to achieve androgen depletion is through chemical castration with drugs such as leuprolide and goserelin. ADT has traditionally been reserved for advanced cases of prostate cancer, but increasing numbers of men with earlier stages of the disease are also undergoing the treatment.

Prostate cancer patients who are prescribed these drugs often use them for a lifetime and researchers have been documenting the potential adverse effects associated with their use.

Men may experience hot flashes, osteoporosis, anaemia, fatigue, loss of libido, erectile dysfunction, risk of diabetes, risk of cardiovascular disease, emotional distress and other effects.

Research also indicates that androgen depletion may impact cognitive functioning, which can affect a patient’s decision-making skills and quality of life.

Unfortunately, only a handful of relatively small studies have investigated the impact of androgen depletion on cognitive functioning, and some of these studies have reported contradictory results.

Christian Nelson, a psychologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York City and his colleagues recently conducted the first review of these studies and summarised their overall results.

After performing a systematic literature search of studies in animals and humans, Nelson’s team found that testosterone and its derivatives may impact cognition via several mechanisms in the brain.

These findings will be published in the Sep 1 issue of CANCER.

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