Posted 9/12/2014 11:02 AM (GMT -6)
The gist of the article
For decades, men who were diagnosed with prostate cancer got a treatment and injections that suppressed or lowered the hormone testosterone in their bodies. And now, as new studies show, what a local prostate oncologist uncovered last year and a new large study confirms, this is wrong for many patients.
"Now we have good evidence that it's actually causing harm. It causes more harm than good for individuals with localized disease who are initially diagnosed," said Dr. Oliver Sartor, a Tulane oncologist in the Urology Department who specializes in treatment and research of prostate cancer.
Dr. Sartor says there is good evidence that lowering a man's natural hormone helps if he has a serious advanced form of prostate cancer, so for a long time the same injections were given for years to men who had a low grade form of prostate cancer that was contained in the prostate gland. But the studies never supported that.
"What we found, was that the people who had surgery, lived longer and the people who got hormone suppression, we're talking about men having their testosterone lowered, in our study we found that they died sooner," he explained.
Men who don't have enough testosterone go into andropause, similar to menopause in a woman, which causes many serious health problems.
"So hormone suppression was leading to cardiovascular events. Hormone suppression was leading to osteopenia and fractures. Hormone suppression was leading people to be fatigued and depressed. Now we know hormone suppression can lead people to be more prone to diabetes. And so they lose muscle, they gain fat, they have worse glucose control, worse lipid control, and they are less active. So what do you have? Cardiovascular risk factors," Dr. Sartor emphasized.
The message is one size does not fit all. Men with low grade cancer just need to be watched regularly by their physicians.
"The vast majority of prostate cancer diagnosed in the U.S. today, probably does not need to be treated," said Dr. Sartor.
Dr. Sartor says that men who have advanced prostate cancer, that has spread, are candidates for the injections to suppress their testosterone.