Hormone therapy for prostate cancer may impair men's thinking

Men with prostate cancer, getting treated with ADT (androgen deprivation therapy) may be at risk for cognitive impairment.

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The current literature around treating prostate cancer with androgen deprivation therapy is mixed as to the effect that ADT has on the brain. 

But most agree that decreased mental sharpness, and memory problems are a side effect of hormone therapy. 

Samadi's Take

Because there are different things that can affect brain function. This study examined demographic and genetic predictors of impaired brain function.

58 PCa patients were assessed before starting ADT, 6 months after, and 12 months after. Age and education matched PCa patients treated with a prostatectomy, and men without PCa assessed at the same intervals.

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Participants provided baseline blood samples for genotyping:

o Cognitive performance was compared

o Cognitive impairment was estimated

• RESULTS:

o Men receiving ADT had higher rates of impaired cognitive performance over time

▪ Relative to ALL controls

o Baseline age, cognitive reserve, depressive symptoms, fatigue, and hot flash interference did not impact impaired cognitive performance for those receiving ADT

Men treated with ADT were more likely to have impaired brain function within 6 months of starting ADT.

▪ Continue to demonstrate impaired cognitive function within 12 months of ADT. This will be important for patients receiving the treatment.

Patient education around prostate cancer hormone therapy treatment is critical. Patients should know risks and side effects of treatments.

Quick Facts

• 44% of patients with prostate cancer undergo ADT

• Common side effects are depression, fatigue, erectile dysfunction

• In the past studies have had mixed results about ADT effect on cognitive function

• Similar cognitive effects occur with chemotherapy – known as “chemo brain”