But even as ADT helps men live longer, it exerts a toll on the body. Men can lose muscle and bone mass, gain weight, and they face higher risks for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Men weighing treatment options for intermediate- or high-risk cancer that is still localized to the prostate can face a tricky question. A standard approach in these cases is to give radiation to the prostate along with drugs that block testosterone, a hormone that makes the cancer cells grow faster. For how long should this hormone therapy last? That’s not entirely clear.
When used properly, this treatment can make a world of difference for many patients.
Men whose prostate cancer comes back after surgery are more likely to survive if, along with the usual radiation, they also take drugs to block male hormones.
Scientists at Cedars-Sinai have discovered how prostate cancer can sometimes withstand and outwit a standard hormone therapy, causing the cancer to spread. Their findings also point to a simple blood test that may help doctors predict when this type of hormone therapy resistance will occur.
Men taking testosterone-blocking drugs have nearly twice the risk of developing disease as those using other treatments.
The only people who really like androgen deprivation therapy (also called ADT, or hormonal therapy) are the drug companies that make billions of dollars a year selling the drugs. Doctors don’t like it, and men don’t like being on these drugs.
So why do it?
Hormone therapy is an option for many men with prostate cancer, but it’s used in different ways depending on whether your cancer has spread.
Hormone therapy, also known as androgen-deprivation therapy or ADT, is designed to stop testosterone from being released or to prevent the hormone from acting on the prostate cells. Although hormone therapy plays an important role in men with advancing prostate cancer, it is increasingly being used before, during, or after local treatment as well.
Prostate cancer hormone therapy is the systemic ablation of the body''s testosterone which, for a period of time, will slow or stop the growth and spread of prostate cancer. Hormone therapy may also be called androgen deprivation or androgen ablation.
Hormone therapy for prostate cancer—also called androgen suppression therapy or androgen deprivation therapy—can block the production and use of androgens.
In many cases, prostate cancer tumors respond to the removal of testosterone. However, some cancer cells grow independently of testosterone and remain unaffected by this treatment. These hormone-independent cells continue to progress and hormone therapy will have less and less of an impact on the tumor over time.
For this reason, hormone therapy cannot stop cancer. However, it is an important treatment in managing advanced disease and is part of the treatment regimen in most cases during recurrent or advanced prostate cancer.