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

The researchers 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 study looked at the incidence and risk of death from IHD, MI, heart failure, and arrhythmia across the two groups. There was an increased risk from all of the types of endocrine treatment studied, namely orchiectomy, GnRH agonists and anti-androgen monotherapy. However, the additional risks varied considerably across therapies. For example, the increased risk of heart failure was 5 per cent for anti-androgens, but 34 per cent for GnRH agonists. The additional risk for IHD 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, the researchers concluded.

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Originally published in the December 2009 edition of MIMS Oncology & Palliative Care.