Common prostate cancer drugs may be less safe than thought

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Scientists from Michigan Medicine found that men taking either of the two most common oral medications for advanced prostate cancer who had also undergone hormone therapy to treat their disease were at higher risk of serious metabolic or heart issues than patients who were only receiving hormone therapy.

The research is published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and was conducted by Lillian Y. Lai et al.

In the study, researchers found that patients taking abiraterone had 1.77 times the risk of being admitted to the emergency room or the hospital due to diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease compared to those who were only on hormone therapy.

Those receiving enzalutamide were at 1.22 times the risk of these issues.

The team also found that compared to patients not receiving abiraterone, those taking abiraterone were also more likely to need an outpatient visit with their physician related to at least one of these health conditions.

That was not the case if the man was taking enzalutamide.

Abiraterone and enzalutamide were both found to be relatively safe in clinical trials, but many patients who participated in the trials were different than those in real-life settings.

For instance, this research only analyzed patients with Medicare health insurance, and the majority of men studied were much older than those in the drugs’ clinical trials.

The team says patients enrolled in clinical trials tend to be highly selected and oftentimes do not reflect the patient population in day-to-day practice.

Trial participants also undergo stringent safety evaluations that some of the patients do not have access to.

By studying adverse events in real-life settings, doctors can better understand the risks of these life-prolonging cancer treatments and help clinicians and patients make informed decisions regarding treatment.

Since metabolic and cardiovascular conditions tend to be under the purview of primary care providers, the researchers recommend team-based care that involves PCPs for patients with advanced prostate cancer as a way to manage these higher risks.

If you care about prostate cancer, please read studies about diet that could drive growth of prostate cancer, and enlarged prostate may actually lower a man’s odds for cancer.

For more information about prostate cancer, please see recent studies about new tests for prostate cancer, colon cancer, and results showing prostate cancer drugs may help treat COVID-19.

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