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New Study Says Taking Breaks from Hormone Treatment for Prostate Cancer May Not Be Beneficial

A new study sponsored by the National Cancer Institute looking at more than 1,500 men with metastatic prostate cancer, finds taking periodic breaks from hormonal therapy is less effective than continuous therapy for certain men with the disease.

Approximately 250,000 to 350,000 American men are currently receiving hormonal therapy for prostate cancer. This treatment, which can be used up to five years in some men, involves the use of drugs that suppress the body’s production of the male hormone testosterone, which fuels the cancer’s growth. The downside of using these drugs includes loss of libido, hot flashes and weight gain, which is why many men and their doctors opt to periodically stop treatment.

Earlier studies have shown that intermittent therapy was roughly as effective as continuous therapy. But this new study “for the first time demonstrates there’s a price to pay”.

Of the 1,500 men who participated in the study, those randomly assigned to receive the intermittent therapy lived a median of 5.1 years, compared with 5.8 years for those on continuous therapy.

The big difference was for the subset of men with minimal prostate cancer. Those getting intermittent therapy had an average survival of 5.2 years compared with 7.1 years for those getting continuous therapy.

Much like many other treatments for prostate cancer, hormone deprivation therapy, whether intermittent or continuous, should be accompanied by a thorough discussion of its risks and benefits with your urologist or oncologist. Most treatments are not a “one size fits all” therapy. If you have any questions, please call Urology Austin at (512) 477-8640.

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