Prostate Cancer Hormone Treatment Risks: Diabetes or Heart Problems

Warning and precaution: hormone treatments for prostate cancer can increase the risk of diabetes and heart problems. This is the additional message that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would like manufacturers of hormone treatment drugs to include in their label.

The request was sent after the FDA reviewed six studies that showed a small increased risk of diabetes or heart problems in prostate cancer patients treated with drugs called gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists. The drugs are used to suppress the production of testosterone, a hormone which fuels the growth of prostate cancer.

The risk may be low but the FDA urges doctors to evaluate the patient’s risks for diabetes and heart problems before starting the treatment.

The request concerns medications such as Abbott Laboratories Inc’s Lupron, AstraZeneca Plc’s Zoladex and Sanofi-Aventis SA’s Eligard. Other GnRH drugs also include Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc’s Trelstar, Endo Pharmaceuticals Holdings Inc’s Vantas, and Pfizer Inc’s Synarel.

Abbott Laboratories says it will comply with the FDA’s request. Its Lupron label already mentions about diabetes, increase in blood sugar, and heart problems.

Meanwhile, Sanofi spokesperson Emmy Tsui states that their company is committed to the safe and effective use of Eligard.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among American men. According to government estimates, around 217, 000 new cases are expected to be diagnosed in the U.S. this year while 32,000 are expected to die from the disease.

For our other coverage on anti-prostate cancer drugs, check out the following links: Is Lupron and other anti-cancer drugs safe?, the supposed life-prolonging effect of the anti-prostate cancer Abiraterone, and CNN Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s video on how Provenge works.

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