Treatment To Lower Androgen Levels From The Adrenal Glands
LHRH agonists and antagonists can stop the testicles from making androgens, but cells in other parts of the body, such as the adrenal glands, and prostate cancer cells themselves, can still make male hormones, which can fuel cancer growth. Drugs are available that block the formation of androgens made;by these cells.
Abiraterone blocks an enzyme called CYP17, which helps stop these cells from making androgens.
Abiraterone can be used in men with advanced prostate cancer that is either:
- High risk;;
This drug is taken as pills every day. It doesnt stop the testicles from making testosterone, so men who havent had an orchiectomy need to continue treatment with an LHRH agonist or antagonist. Because abiraterone also lowers the level of some other hormones in the body, prednisone needs to be taken during treatment as well to avoid certain side effects.
Ketoconazole , first used for treating fungal infections, also blocks production of androgens made in the adrenal glands, much like abiraterone. It’s most often used to treat men just diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer who have a lot of cancer in the body, as it offers a quick way to lower testosterone levels. It can also be tried if other forms of hormone therapy are no longer working.
Ketoconazole also can block the production of cortisol, an important steroid hormone in the body, so men treated with this drug often need to take a corticosteroid .
What Are The Long
A new five-year study identifies how different treatment options affect long-term bowel, bladder and sexual function.
Any man who is diagnosed with prostate cancer and faces treatment choices must grapple with the risk of side effects. Urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction are the most common. Sometimes, these side effects are temporary and get better with time.
Until now, however, there havent been good long-term data to help oncologists help men with prostate cancer make informed choices about treatment that take these side-effect risks into account.
The new study included more than 2,000 men who were followed for five years after receiving various types of prostate cancer treatment. The resulting paper quantifies key differences in those treatments associations with long-term bowel, bladder and sexual function. The study, called CEASAR, for the Comprehensive Effectiveness Analysis of Surgery and Radiation for Localized Prostate Cancer, is coordinated by the Vanderbilt University Medical Cancer and follows men who were diagnosed with localized prostate cancer between 2011 and 2012.
The 1,386 men with favorable-risk prostate cancer received one of these treatments:
The 619 men with unfavorable-risk prostate cancer received one of two treatments:
There were no clinically significant differences in bowel function after five years across the treatment types.
To read a press release about the study, .
To read the study abstract, .
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What To Expect During Hormone Therapy
As you go through hormone deprivation therapy, youâll have follow-up visits with your cancer doctor. Theyâll ask about side effects and check your PSA levels.
Doctors donât know how long hormone therapy works to keep prostate cancer in check. So, while you take it, your doctor will regularly draw blood to check your PSA levels. Undetectable or low PSA levels usually mean that the treatment is working. If your PSA levels go up, itâs a sign that the cancer has started growing again. If this happens, your cancer is considered castrate-resistant, and hormone deprivation therapy is no longer an effective treatment.
To lessen the side effects of hormone therapy drugs, researchers suggest that you take them for just a set amount of time or until your PSA drops to a low level. If the cancer comes back or gets worse, you may need to start treatment again.
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What Type Of Hormone Therapy Works Best
Unfortunately, understanding the details of hormone therapy for prostate cancer can be difficult. Which drug or combination of drugs works best? In what order should they be tried? Research hasn’t answered these questions yet.
“Right now, there’s a level of art to figuring out which agents to use,” says Durado Brooks, MD, MPH, director of prostate cancer programs at the American Cancer Society. “We don’t have clear evidence yet.”
LHRH agonists remain the usual first treatment. But in some cases, doctors are trying anti-androgens first. Anti-androgens may be especially appealing to younger men who are still sexually active, since these drugs don’t completely shut down sex drive. When anti-androgens stop working — based on PSA tests — a person then might shift onto an LHRH agonist.
Other doctors prefer to begin therapy with a combination of two or even three drugs, especially for patients with symptoms or advanced disease, says Holden.
Researchers originally hoped that combined androgen blockade would significantly add to the benefits of LHRH agonists. However, the results, to date, have been mixed. Some studies have shown slightly longer survival with combined androgen blockade, but the results haven’t been as dramatic as many experts had hoped. Other studies have shown no benefit. A possible explanation may be the type of anti-androgen used, but further studies are needed to answer this question.
When Is Hormone Therapy Used For Prostate Cancer
On its own, hormone therapy can be a good way to control the growth of your prostate cancer. It can also be used with another prostate cancer treatment to help it work better. You should keep in mind that the following things will affect when you have hormone therapy and if you have hormone therapy along with another type of prostate cancer treatment:
- The grade of your prostate cancer
- Your Gleason score
- The stage of your prostate cancer
- Your PSA level
- Your age
- Your general health
Your stage, grade, and Gleason score are determined by a pathologist. A pathologist is a specially trained physician who reviews biopsy results in order to find changes in your body caused by cancer. When you had your prostate biopsy, the pathologist looked at the tissue samples taken from your prostate gland and prepared your biopsy report. The report tells you and your doctor the following information:
- The grade tells you what your prostate cancer cells look like.
- The Gleason score. The Gleason score tells you what your prostate cancer cells look like compared to healthy cells and gives you an idea of how quickly your cancer is growing. Your Gleason score will range from 2 to 10.
- The stage tells how much prostate cancer you have and where your cancer is located.
This information is used to help your doctor chose the most effective type of hormone therapy for you. The types of hormone therapy include:
Neoadjuvant hormone therapy
Adjuvant hormone therapy
Salvage hormone therapy
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Swelling Bruising Or Tenderness Of The Scrotum
Symptoms generally resolve on their own within three to five days. Oral anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen are usually sufficient for pain relief, if necessary. You should avoid hot tubs and Jacuzzis for at least two to three days after the procedure. Postpone bike riding until the tenderness is gone.
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What Is Advanced Prostate Cancer
When prostate cancer spreads beyond the prostate or returns after treatment, it is often called advanced prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is often grouped into four stages.
- Stages I & II: The tumor has not spread beyond the prostate. This is often called early stage or localized prostate cancer.
- Stage III: Cancer has spread outside the prostate, but only to nearby tissues. This is often called locally advanced prostate cancer.
- Stage IV: Cancer has spread outside the prostate to other parts such as the lymph nodes, bones, liver or lungs. This stage is often called advanced prostate cancer.
When an early stage prostate cancer is found, it may be treated or placed on surveillance . If prostate cancer spreads beyond the prostate or returns after treatment, it is often called advanced prostate cancer. Stage IV prostate cancer is not curable, but there are many ways to control it. Treatment can stop advanced prostate cancer from growing and causing symptoms.
There are several types of advanced prostate cancer, including:
If your Prostate Specific Antigen level has risen after the first treatment but you have no other signs of cancer, you have “biochemical recurrence.”
Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer
Non-Metastatic Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer
Metastatic Prostate Cancer
- Lymph nodes outside the pelvis
- Other organs
Metastatic Hormone-Sensitive Prostate Cancer
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Biochemical Recurrence And Hormone Therapy
Hormone therapy is the standard of care for patients with metastatic prostate cancer, but for patients whose only sign of cancer recurrence is a rising PSA level , the benefits are less clear.
Some doctors think that hormone therapy works better if its started as soon as possible, even if a man is not having any symptoms. Other doctors feel that, because of the side effects of hormone therapy and the chance that the cancer could become resistant to the therapy, treatment shouldnt be started until symptoms develop. This issue is being actively studied.
When Does Hormone Therapy Fail For Prostate Cancer
Cancer cells are smart. When faced with a continuous stressor such as chemotherapy or hormone therapy, they eventually evolve and learn evasive maneuvers. When prostate cancer cells grow resistant or become insensitive to hormone therapy, the cancer is referred to as hormone refractory.
Hormone therapy may work to treat prostate cancer for many years. However, its only a temporary fix because eventually, the cancer becomes resistant. The risk of resistance goes up if the cancer has taken hold for a long time or if it has relapsed.
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Surgery To Remove The Testicles
Surgery to remove your testicles isnt a common way of lowering the amount of testosterone you produce.
You usually only have surgery to remove your testicles if you need your testosterone reduced urgently. For example if your cancer has spread to your bones and is pressing on your spinal cord, your doctors might want to reduce the amount of testosterone quickly.
Your doctors might also suggest surgery as an option if you don’t want to have injections or tablets.;
Hormone Therapy For Prostate Cancer
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Hormone therapy is also called androgen suppression therapy. The goal is to reduce levels of male hormones, called androgens, in the body, or to stop them from fueling prostate cancer cells.
Androgens stimulate prostate cancer cells to grow. The main androgens in the body are testosterone and dihydrotestosterone . Most androgen is made by the testicles, but the adrenal glands as well as the prostate cancer itself, can also make a fair amount. Lowering androgen levels or stopping them from getting into prostate cancer cells often makes prostate cancers shrink or grow more slowly for a time. But hormone therapy alone does not cure prostate cancer.
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How Can I Lower My Testosterone With Surgery
The majority of the testosterone in your body is made by your testicles. You can lower your testosterone with an operation called an orchiectomy. An orchiectomy is a simple and effective way to lower the amount of testosterone in your body. However, it is a permanent form of hormone therapy.
Before your orchiectomy, you will be given anesthesia. Anesthesia is a medicine given to you by an anesthesiologist so that you do not feel pain during your operation. An anesthesiologist is the doctor who gives you medicine to make you sleep during the surgery and who carefully watches you during the operation. Your doctor will make a small cut in your scrotum and remove your testicles. Most men who have an orchiectomy go home the same day of their surgery. Your penis and scrotum, the pouch of skin that holds your testicles, will not be damaged during this operation. It will take you about two weeks to heal from the surgery.
Some men are concerned about how their body will look after their testicles are removed. There are testicular prostheses , or artificial testicles, that can be placed in your scrotum to replace the testicles removed during your surgery. The prostheses make your scrotum look like it did before surgery. If youare concerned about how your body will look, speak with your doctor or health care team about artificial testicles.
Combined Androgen Blockade: Pro And Con
Crawford ED, Eisenberger MA, McLeod DG, et al. A Controlled Trial of Leuprolide With and Without Flutamide in Prostatic Carcinoma. New England Journal of Medicine 1989;321:41924. PMID: 2503724.
Eisenberger MA, Blumenstein BA, Crawford ED, et al. Bilateral Orchiectomy With or Without Flutamide for Metastatic Prostate Cancer. New England Journal of Medicine 1998;339:103642. PMID: 9761805.
Two large meta-analyses that reviewed many studies comparing combined androgen blockade to monotherapy concluded that the combination offered only a small survival advantage and even that finding was inconsistent between the two analyses. One analysis, which reviewed 27 randomized studies involving 8,275 men, estimated that combined androgen blockade improved five-year survival by only 2% to 3%, at most. However, an advantage of only 2% to 3%, when applied to thousands of men undergoing treatment, translates into hundreds of lives extended obviously an important benefit to the men who gain months and even years of life as a result. That is why I use combined therapy for all of my patients who undergo hormone treatments.
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Hormone Therapy And Prostate Cancer
The following information is based on the general experiences of many prostate cancer patients. Your experience may be different. If you have any questions about what prostate cancer treatment services are covered by your health insurance, please contact your health care provider or health insurance provider. This education material was made possible by a Grant from the California Department of Justice, Antitrust Law Section, from litigation settlement funds to benefit Californians diagnosed with cancer or their families.
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Will Side Effects Limit What I Can Do
What you are able to do will depend on which side effects you have and how bad they are. Many men are able to work, cook meals, and enjoy their usual daily activities when they have hormone therapy for their prostate cancer. Other men find that they need more rest than before they started hormone therapy so they cant do as much. You should try to keep doing the things you enjoy as long as you dont get too tired.
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How Are Treatments Administered
GnRH agonists are either injected or placed as small implants under the skin. Anti-androgens are taken as a pill once per day. Degarelix is given as an injection. A chemotherapy drug called docetaxel is sometimes used in combination with these hormone therapies.
Zytiga is taken by mouth once per day in combination with a steroid called prednisone.
Surgery to remove the testicles can be done as an outpatient procedure. You should be able to go home a few hours after an orchiectomy.
Complications Of Hormonal Therapy
E. David Crawford, MD, Professor of Surgery and Radiation Oncology, Head of the Section of Urologic Oncology at the University of Colorado, and Chairman of the 16th International Prostate Cancer Update, provided an excellent overview of complications of hormonal therapy and their treatment. He began this discussion by outlining not only the benefits but also the complications of androgen deprivation, the latter including osteoporosis, hot flushes, gastrointestinal side effects, anemia, gynecomastia, sarcopenia, central nervous system effects, change in body weight, sexual dysfunction, loss of bone density, and increased risk of bone fracture and hot flushes .
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Treating Prostate Cancer With Hormone Therapy
Hormone therapy, also known as androgen deprivation therapy , has long been the backbone of treatment for metastatic prostate cancer.
Hormone therapy, depending on the form, reduces this effect by either decreasing the body’s production of testosterone or blocking testosterone from binding to cancer cells.
There are several scenarios in which hormone therapy is typically used:
- When prostate cancer has spread too far to be cured by surgery or radiation, or has recurred after surgical or radiation treatment
- As an initial treatment for patients who are at higher risk of recurrence after treatment, such as those with a high PSA level or a high Gleason score ;
- For patients who have a high PSA level following surgery or radiation, even if they have no evidence of disease. Not all doctors, however, agree with this approach
Surgically Removing The Prostate Gland
A radical prostatectomy is the surgical removal of your prostate gland. This treatment is an option for curing prostate cancer that has not spread beyond the prostate or has not spread very far.
Like any operation, this surgery carries some risks.
A recent trial showed possible long-term side effects of radical prostatectomy may include an inability to get an erection and urinary incontinence.
Before having any treatment, 67% of men said they could get erections firm enough for intercourse.
When the men who had a radical prostatectomy were asked again after 6 months, this had decreased to 12%. When asked again after 6 years, it had slightly improved to 17%.
For urinary incontinence, 1% of men said they used absorbent pads before having any treatment.
When the men who had a radical prostatectomy were asked again after 6 months, this had increased to 46%. After 6 years, this had improved to 17%.
Out of the men who were actively monitored instead, 4% were using absorbent pads at 6 months and 8% after 6 years.
In extremely rare cases, problems arising after surgery can be fatal.
It’s possible that prostate cancer can come back again after treatment. Your doctor should be able to explain the risk of your cancer coming back after treatment, based on things like your PSA level and the stage of your cancer.
After a radical prostatectomy, you’ll no longer ejaculate during sex. This means you will not be able to have a child through sexual intercourse.
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