A new study suggests that men undergoing hormone therapy to treat prostate cancer may experience impaired mental function within the first six months that persists for at least a year.
Researchers found that learning and concentration problems associated with hormone therapy was greatest from men with a particular gene mutation.
The report was published online May 11th in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
There appears to be something about the treatment that is associated with worse mental function, unfortunately the associated does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
Researchers evaluated 58 prostate cancer patients before they began hormone therapy and six months and 12 months later. This data was compared with 84 men who had their prostate gland surgically removed and 88 men without prostate cancer.
Mental functioning was worse for men receiving hormone depletion therapy, however men with the gene mutation rs104777 were 14 times more likely to have mental problems related to hormone therapy than men without this mutation.
Men who are considering hormone therapy for prostate cancer should be aware of the possible mental side effects.
Unrelated experts to the study assert that this study is small and needs to be verified by a randomized study. A randomized study would compare similar men receiving hormone therapy with those not receiving this treatment. The duration of the hormone therapy also needs to remain constant in the study.
Some experts believe that there is a biological reason for thinking and memory problems among men on hormone therapy.
Current practice is to give hormone therapy for only a short time.
Hormone therapy is not absolutely necessary. Men have to worry about side effects such as fatigue, male menopause and depression but also heart problems. Many believe that state-of-the-art surgery will allow men to have their prostate gland removed and not suffer from incontinence or sexual side effects.