Men using the female estrogen hormone replacement therapy (HRT) patches as treatment for advanced prostate cancer suffer fewer side effects than with other treatments, according to a new study reported in the latest issue of the Journal of Urology (December 2004). Scientists at Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust and Imperial College London have already shown that HRT patches have considerable potential as prostate cancer therapy. For the first time they have additionally shown that this therapy, unlike other current treatments, prevents bone loss (osteoporosis) and instead causes an increase in bone density. These early studies confirm the considerable promise of estrogen hormone patches in advanced prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the most common male cancer in the UK, with about 20,000 cases diagnosed every year. Affecting men generally over the age of 45, prostate cancer grows slowly and may go undetected for many years. In some cases, the cancer can spread to bones and other organs of the body. The causes of prostate cancer are mainly unknown, but it requires the male hormone testosterone, produced in the testicles, to develop and grow. Treatment of advanced disease has resulted in therapies that reduce or remove testosterone from the body, via surgical or medical ‘castration.’
“Depriving the cancer of testosterone is the well accepted method of slowing down the progression of advanced prostate cancer,” comments lead author Mr Paul Abel, consultant urologist at Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust and Imperial College London. “The problem is that conventional current therapies which involve testosterone reduction can have serious side effects such as osteoporosis, which has not been fully appreciated until quite recently. This has led to reports of an increasing chance of bone fractures in these patients. Our study shows that oestrogen therapy delivered by skin patches not only controls prostate cancer, but prevents bone loss and in most cases, increases bone mass.”
Simon Wilde | alfa
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