Prostate cancer survivors taking androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), a treatment commonly used to block the release of male hormones, are at a higher risk of developing chronic diseases, according to new research published this week.
In a study analyzing the pharmaceutical records of about 3,700 prostate cancer survivors from 2003 to 2014, University of South Australia (UniSA) researchers examined the development of chronic diseases over time.
The data shows that prostate cancer survivors treated with ADT were more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, depression, diabetes, gastric acid disorders, hyperlipidaemia (high blood cholesterol), osteoporosis and inflammatory/painful conditions.
UniSA PhD candidate Huah Shin Ng, who undertook the study, says previous studies have shown long-term adverse effects of ADT but this is the first study to examine the development of multiple chronic diseases in the Australian setting.
The findings point to a need for better coordinated care for cancer survivors, according to UniSA Dr Agnes Vitry, who was supervising the study.
“This data will help us to develop a needs-based approach for ensuring the optimal use of health care services that effectively address multiple chronic conditions for the increasing number of cancer survivors in Australia” Dr Vitry says.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed among Australian men. In 2017, there were more than 200,000 men living with prostate cancer in Australia. Of these, 80% are long-term survivors but many will die from other causes than prostate cancer, mainly chronic conditions, which contributes to a spiraling health bill.
There are no hard figures for Australia, but a report published in the UK showed that the hospital costs for prostate cancer survivors with comorbidities were £12,000 compared to £2800 for survivors without chronic health conditions.