There is evidence that an association exists between certain treatments for prostate cancer and increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, stroke, and even sudden cardiac death.
One of the most common treatment for advanced prostate cancer is androgen deprivation therapy. Androgen deprivation therapy decreases the testosterone level and thereby removing the fuel that promotes increased growth of prostate cancer.
It is important that all men have a discussion with their doctor which includes a risk-benefit assessment if the man decides to proceed with androgen deprivation therapy. It is important for the patient to tell his healthcare provider if he has a history of cardiovascular disease or has had any cardiovascular events such as a heart attack, a stroke, or a history of blood clots.
Most androgen deprivation therapies carry a safety information warning regarding an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, sudden cardiac death, and stroke. However, not all androgen deprivation treatment carry these warnings. Therefore, a discussion with your doctor about androgen deprivation therapy choices and your health history and family history of these diseases is imperative before starting therapy.
In order to optimize heart health and minimize risk factors before and during androgen deprivation therapy, there needs to be a discussion to control blood pressure, low sugar levels, cholesterol, and risk of blood clots. Therefore, it is important to speak to your doctor about these factors and how you can reduce your risk.
For all patients, lifestyle modification should be reviewed with your doctor. This includes diet, exercise, smoking cessation, and mental health. I highly recommend a regular exercise program as there are beneficial effects of exercise on the cardiovascular system both in patients with and without cancer.
Bottom line: Advanced prostate cancer does have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease if men are treated with androgen deprivation therapy. I recommend that you speak to your doctor about what treatment options are appropriate for you and discuss any concerns you have prior to choosing your treatment for your prostate cancer.