Patients with advanced stage prostate cancer are commonly treated with Androgen deprivation therapy (ADT). However, about 80% of patients who receive this therapy say that before and after treatment they experience hot flashes. To address this limitation, researchers at the Moffitt Cancer Center are working to understand genetic factors and other characteristics that might make patients with prostate cancer more prone to experience hot flashes during and after ADT.
The majority of treatments for cancer cause undesirable adverse events, some so debilitating that patients opt to discontinue the treatment, even with the risk of disease progression or recurrence. Evidence has shown that about 25% of patients with prostate cancer report experiencing hot flashes with ADT. In this new study, the research team aimed to understand which patients were more prone to experience these symptoms in order to help clinicians with treatment decisions.
They assessed a total of 60 patients with prostate cancer who were receiving treatment with ADT and compared the results with 83 patients with prostate cancer who did not receive ADT, along with a control group of 86 men without prostate cancer. The results revealed that compared to the two control groups combined, patients with prostate cancer who received ADT experienced significantly more hot flashes at 6 months and 12 months after treatment initiation. The results also showed there was an increase over time in the severity of the hot flashes in patients who received ADT. These prostate cancer patients reported that the symptoms affected their daily lives including general quality of life, sleep and leisure activities.
The research team then examined patients’ DNA and other characteristics to assess which factors were related to an increase in hot flashes, observing that younger men with lower body mass index reported more hot flashes and felt more daily life interferences. The investigators also found that specific genes involved in processes such as nerve impulse transmission, blood vessel constriction, immune function, and circadian rhythms were all related to increased experience of hot flashes.
“This study is a concrete step towards identifying which patients are more likely to experience these distressing symptoms,” said Mayer Fishman, M.D., Ph.D., senior member of Moffitt’s Genitourinary Oncology Program in a recent news release.