News archive 2009
Prostate cancer therapy heart risk25 Sep 2009, PR 196/09
Mieke Van Hemelrijck from the Division of Cancer Studies at King’s presented research at a major international conference in Berlin this week highlighting that men receiving hormone therapy are at an increased risk of heart disease. The work showed that doctors should assess cancer patients for their risk of developing heart problems and potentially change their treatment.
More than 37,000 men in Britain develop prostate cancer every year, making it one of the most common forms of the disease. Those in the advanced stages of the condition, or whose cancer has spread to other parts of the body, are often treated with hormone therapy, which can keep the disease in check for months or even years.
Mieke Van Hemelrijck, a cancer epidemiologist from the Cancer Epidemiology Group at King’s who led the study, said that problems started within a few months of treatment, but that there was no question that most patients should be given the drugs. She comments: ‘Of course, we have to treat the prostate cancer, but what we want to do is raise awareness of the risks.
‘While following up patients on endocrine treatment, doctors could keep an eye out for possible symptoms of heart disease. If necessary, patients could then be sent to a cardiologist.’
The research was presented at a presidential session during the European Cancer Organisation and European Society for Medical Oncology Congress.
Heart failure risk
In the King’s study, funded by the Swedish Research Council, the Stockholm Cancer Society and Cancer Research UK, it was found that the treatment can raise the risk of suffering a non-fatal heart attack by 24 per cent and the risk of dying from heart disease by 21 per cent. However, one form of hormone treatment, which blocks the ability of testosterone to attach to prostate cells, caused far fewer heart problems.
Men on this therapy, called anti-androgen hormone therapy, were no more likely to die from heart disease, the study found. Although they did have a greater chance of heart failure, the risk was raised by just five per cent compared to 34 per cent for the other form of hormones, which reduce testosterone production.
The study looked at 30,000 Swedish patients who had been prescribed endocrine treatment as primary treatment when diagnosed with prostate cancer, and followed their progress for an average of three years. The researchers believe that testosterone may be necessary to the normal workings of the heart.
The Prostate Cancer Charity’s Head of Research Management, Dr Helen Rippon, said: ‘Men on hormone therapy should not be unduly worried, as it is one of the most effective forms of treatment for men with locally advanced or advanced prostate cancer and it has clear, proven benefits. Hormone therapy can keep the disease at bay for many months or even years.
‘The increased risk of cardiovascular problems in men on the treatment appears to be quite small, with only ten extra cardiac problems per year, per 1,000 men treated with hormone therapy. Therefore, the vast majority of men will not experience heart problems as a direct result of hormone therapy.
‘Doctors will continue to make treatment recommendations on an individual basis, taking into account each man’s personal medical history. We urge men on hormone therapy who have any concerns about their cardiac health to speak to their specialist.’
Notes to editors
King's College London
King's College London is one of the top 25 universities in the world (Times Higher Education 2008) and the fourth oldest in England. A research-led university based in the heart of London, King's has more than 21,000 students from nearly 140 countries, and more than 5,700 employees. King's is in the second phase of a £1 billion redevelopment programme which is transforming its estate.
King's has an outstanding reputation for providing world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise for British universities, 23 departments were ranked in the top quartile of British universities; over half of our academic staff work in departments that are in the top 10 per cent in the UK in their field and can thus be classed as world leading. The College is in the top seven UK universities for research earnings and has an overall annual income of nearly £450 million.
King's has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, the sciences (including a wide range of health areas such as psychiatry, medicine and dentistry) and social sciences including international affairs. It has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA and research that led to the development of radio, television, mobile phones and radar. It is the largest centre for the education of healthcare professionals in Europe; no university has more Medical Research Council Centres.
King's College London and Guy's and St Thomas', King's College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts are part of King's Health Partners. King's Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC) is a pioneering global collaboration between one of the world's leading research-led universities and three of London's most successful NHS Foundation Trusts, including leading teaching hospitals and comprehensive mental health services. For more information, visit: www.kingshealthpartners.org.
Kate Moore, Public Relations Officer (Health Schools)
Public Relations Department
Tel: 020 7848 4334
King’s and Somerset House join forces
Time Magazine Top Ten
New interaction for Breast Cancer Gene
Booker prize winning novelist at King’s
New lung function genes discovered
Recognising success: King's Awards 2009
Baroness Stern to lead Government review
2009 World Alzheimer's Report
Coronary artery disease management
King’s Health and Society Centre launched
This information is provided by the Public Relations Department
Tel: 020-7848 3202 Fax: 020-7848 3739 Email: email@example.com