Androgen deprivation therapy is used to help treat people with advanced staged prostate cancer, but nearly 80 percent of all patients to get this type of therapy end up experiencing hot flashes. These hot flashes are occurring during treatment and after treatment. Now, researchers at the Moffitt Cancer Center are trying to figure out the genetic factors associated with prostate cancer patients experiencing these hot flashes.
A lot of cancer therapies have unwanted side effects that can end up being very debilitating, so much so that patients will end up quitting the treatment all together. Over 25 percent of prostate cancer patients say that hot flashes are the most debilitating side effect of androgen deprivation therapy. There can be periods of hot flashes for years after the initial treatment is given, and researchers wanted to know which patients are more likely to experience this side effect.
The researchers decided to compare 60 prostate cancer patients who were using androgen deprivation therapy to 83 patients that were not using ADT, and then compare that to 86 men without prostate cancer. The researchers found that the patients who were using androgen deprivation therapy had significantly increased hot flashes at 6 months and 12 months after the therapy started, and that was compared to the other control groups combined. The men receiving the androgen deprivation therapy also experienced increases in the severity of the hot flashes over time, and these hot flashes were reported to be interfering with their daily lives and leisure activities. The men reported that these hot flashes also deprived them of sleep and overall decreased their quality of life.
The researches looked at various DNA characteristics to help them determine the factors that were associated with the increase in the hot flashes. The researchers found out that the men who had a lower body mass index and that were younger had more hot flashes and experienced them more intensely. The researchers were also able to find out certain genes were part of that process, like the nerve impulse transmission and immune function. Circadian rhythms and blood vessel constriction were also associated with an increase in hot flashes. The research really found clues to help determine which men will be getting the hot flashes, and which men should or should not participate in the androgen deprivation therapy. This research will be able to help doctors determine which course of treatment is better for which types of patients, and can warn men at risk of the hot flashes before they begin the therapy.