Moffitt Cancer Center Researchers Work to Determine Why Some Prostate Cancer Patients Experience More Hot Flashes during Therapy

May 07, 2015

TAMPA, Fla. – Androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) is a common treatment option for patients with advanced stage prostate cancer. But nearly 80 percent of patients who receive ADT report experiencing hot flashes during and after treatment. Moffitt Cancer Center researchers are working to determine what genetic factors and other characteristics might make prostate cancer patients more likely to experience hot flashes during and after therapy.

Cancer therapies often are associated with unwanted side effects. Some side effects can be so debilitating that patients decide to quit therapy and risk disease recurrence or progression. More than 25 percent of prostate cancer patients report that hot flashes are the most distressing side effect of ADT. Often, patients experience hot flashes for years after ADT is complete. Researchers wanted to determine which patients were more likely to experience hot flashes to help physicians make treatment decisions.

The researchers compared 60 prostate cancer patients on ADT to 83 prostate cancer patients who did not have ADT and 86 men without cancer.  They discovered that patients on ADT experienced significantly more hot flashes at 6 months and 12 months after therapy initiation than the other two control groups combined. The severity of the hot flashes also increased over time in the group of men receiving ADT. The patients reported that the hot flashes interfered with their daily lives by affecting leisure activities, sleep and general quality of life.

The researchers analyzed patient characteristics and their DNA to determine which factors were associated with an increase of hot flashes. They discovered that men who were younger and had a lower body mass index experienced more hot flashes and felt more interference with their daily lives.  The researchers also reported that the presence of certain genes involved in processes such as immune function, nerve impulse transmission, blood vessel constriction and circadian rhythms were associated with an increased number of hot flashes. 

“This study is a concrete step towards identifying which patients are more likely to experience these distressing symptoms,” said Mayer Fishman, M.D., Ph.D., senior member of Moffitt’s Genitourinary Oncology Program.

The study was published in the March 16 issue of The Journal of Urology. It was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health (R01 CA132803 and R25 CA090314). The research was also made possible by analyses performed by the Molecular Genomics Core and the Survey Methods Core at Moffitt that are supported by funds from a Cancer Center Support Grant (P30 CA076292).

About Moffitt Cancer Center
Located in Tampa, Moffitt is one of only 41 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, a distinction that recognizes Moffitt’s excellence in research, its contributions to clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. Moffitt is the top-ranked cancer hospital in the Southeast and has been listed in U.S. News & World Report as one of the “Best Hospitals” for cancer care since 1999. With more than 4,500 employees, Moffitt has an economic impact in Florida of nearly $1.6 billion. For more information, visit MOFFITT.org, and follow the Moffitt momentum on FacebookTwitter and YouTube.

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