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Prostate cancer survivors more likely to die of other diseases

Heart disease is the most common cause of death among prostate cancer survivors, Vanderbilt University researchers said in a new study.

By Stephen Feller
Prostate cancer survivors more likely to die of other diseases
Researchers said doctors must educate prostate cancer patients treated with ADT of the higher risk for cardiovascular disease the hormone treatment can cause. Photo by www.BillionPhotos.com/Shutterstock

NASHVILLE, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- Prostate cancer survivors are most likely to die from something other than cancer, with cardiovascular disease as the most common cause, according to a new study.

Androgen deprivation therapy, or ADT, may increase several cardiovascular risk factors that contribute to heart disease and adverse cardiovascular events, researchers at Vanderbilt University report.

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Cardiovascular disease is already the top killer of men in the United States, which researchers said should make it a bigger concern anyway, regardless of treatment for prostate cancer.

ADT reduces serum testosterone levels, which can slow or stop tumor growth, or cause them to shrink.

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"No one is simply a prostate or a heart, and the treatments we use to treat one illness or another can dramatically affect the well-being of other parts of a patient," said Dr. Alicia Morgans, an assistant professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University, in a press release.

For the study, published in the journal Circulation, researchers lay out a method of evaluating prostate cancer survivors' risk of developing heart disease they call the ABCDE algorithm, which includes: awareness and aspirin, blood pressure monitoring, cholesterol management and cigarette avoidance, diet and diabetes, and exercise.

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The researchers note collaboration among specialists treating patients is responsible for educating patients about steps to take to lower the risk, and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network is now planning to adopt the algorithm as part of its national cancer survivorship guidelines.

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"While ADT therapy is of great benefit to many patients with prostate cancer, it may also increase the risk of developing diabetes or having a heart attack or stroke," said Dr. Eric Shinohara, medical director of the Vanderbilt Radiation Oncology Clinic. "By collaborating with urology, medical oncology and the cardio-oncology program, we are better able to determine which patients are most likely to benefit from hormones, and in those who do get hormones, how to better protect their cardiovascular system."

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