cancer can be slowed through use of the anti-androgens
and the combined androgen blockade (CAB). The use of hormone therapy,
however, can have adverse side effects that many patients
find unpleasant, or possibly, dangerous. There are side
effects beyond those listed here that may occur with
hormone therapy. Patients should pay attention to their
bodies and note any changes they may want to report
to a doctor.
Side effects associated with hormone
therapy may go away on their own as the body readjusts
to the new agents. Patients who find that the severity
of side effects interferes with the enjoyment of everyday
life should speak with their doctors. Prostate cancer
hormone therapy is a valuable tool in halting the growth
of the tumor. Doctors may encourage their patients to
stay with hormone therapy to see if the body adjusts
and the side effects go away, or they may want to change
the medication or the therapy.
Common side effects associated with the use of an anti-androgen include:
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Loss of or decrease in appetite
- Dizziness or headache
- Swelling of (gynecomastia) or
tenderness in the breasts
- Trouble sleeping
- Impotence or decrease in sex
Sexual side effects associated with
anti-androgens are usually temporary and less than those
associated with medical castration and surgical castration.
When anti-androgens are used without LHRH agonists or
antagonists, or orchiectomy, libido and potency can
usually be maintained.
Less common side effects of anti-androgen
- A bloated feeling accompanied
by gas or indigestion
- Dryness of mouth
- Flu-like symptoms (including:
headache, muscle and joint pain, tiredness, nausea,
and vomiting together)
- Change in the eye's ability to
readjust to changing light levels or the ability to
perceive color (associated with nilutamide)
Other uncommon side effects require
immediate medical attention: chest pain, shortness of
breath, pain in the upper right abdomen, and yellowing
of the eyes and skin.
Other uncommon side effects include
coughing, hoarseness, fever, tightness of chest, black
or tarry stool, chills, depression, numbness or tingling
in hands, arms, feet, or legs, dark urine, unusual bleeding
or bruising, and pressure in the head or facial swelling.
Patients who experience these symptoms do not need immediate
medical attention, but should speak with their doctors.
Men who undergo prostate cancer
hormone therapy to ablate their testosterone may notice
a change in the way facial and body hair grows. Men,
however, will not turn into women, nor will they lose
secondary sexual characteristics. Patients who are considering
hormone therapy as a prostate
cancer treatment should speak with their doctors
about the advantages and disadvantages that different
LHRH agonist drugs offer.