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30 July 2008
Prostate Cancer Drugs Found To Addle The Brain
by George Atkinson

A new meta-study has found that hormone deprivation therapy, a commonly used treatment for prostate cancer, may affect a patient's ability to recall and concentrate.

Hormone deprivation therapy, also known as androgen depletion therapy, is a well established treatment for prostate cancer. Because hormones, such as testosterone, drive the growth of prostate cancer cells, reducing certain hormonal levels can slow or stop progression of the cancer.

Androgen depletion 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.

Leuprolide and goserelin are the two most common drugs used in androgen depletion and researchers have been documenting the potential adverse effects associated with their use. They say that as well as hot flashes, osteoporosis, anemia, fatigue, loss of libido and erectile dysfunction, men may also suffer declines in cognitive functioning.

In the new study, Dr. Christian Nelson, of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, found that testosterone and its derivatives may impact cognition via several mechanisms in the brain. For example, testosterone can modulate brain chemicals called neurotransmitters and stimulate the connections between neurons. Also, studies that have examined the impact of androgen depletion therapy in prostate cancer patients indicate that between 47 percent and 69 percent of men being treated decline in at least one cognitive area, most commonly in processes dependent on spatial ability and in high-order capacities such as the ability to multi-task.

"As the use of androgen depletion therapy increases, clinicians should become aware of this relationship [with cognitive decline], and inform and monitor patients for this possible side effect of treatment," cautioned Dr. Nelson.

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Source: CANCER

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