Hormone Therapy is More Effective When Used For Longer Periods

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Use of intermittent hormone therapy for prostate cancer is a common practice because treatment is associated with significant side effects, and going off the drug occasionally helps men get relief from those adverse effects. However, a new study shows men get the most benefit from continuous hormone therapy rather than intermittent therapy.

Men who undergo hormone therapy for prostate cancer can expect a number of bothersome, even severe side effects. Some of the side effects of hormone therapy can include breast enlargement, weight gain, increased cholesterol levels, hot flashes, blood clots, fatigue, and erectile dysfunction.

In a new large study, investigators found that men who choose to periodically stop hormone therapy in an attempt to get relief from side effects do not reap the same cancer fighting benefits as men who choose continuous treatment.

This finding is “striking and surprising because it goes against the conventional belief,” according to lead investigator Dr. Maha Hussain, professor of medicine and urology at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The study involved more than 1,500 men who had metastatic prostate cancer and who were randomly assigned to receive intermittent or continuous hormone therapy. Median survival for men who received intermittent hormone therapy was 5.1 years compared with 5.8 years among men who got continuous hormone treatment. These findings suggest men who plan to undergo hormone treatment should discuss the pros and cons of continuous versus intermittent treatment with their physician.

Read more in our Prostate Cancer Health Center.


Pollack A. Interrupting prostate cancer treatment could shorten life, study finds. New York Times 2012 Jun 3