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The Management of Hot Flashes in Prostate Cancer Patients

The Management of Hot Flashes in Prostate Cancer Patients
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Published on July 31, 2020

Who Gets Prostate Cancer and What are the Symptoms?

Approximately one in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society.1 The average age at diagnosis is around 66 years. Common symptoms of prostate cancer can include frequent urination, blood in the urine, sudden onset of erectile dysfunction and discomfort when sitting due to an enlarged prostate gland. Risk factors for prostate cancer include being 65 years or older, having a family history of prostate cancer and certain genetic factors.

This is a cancer that, for some, is slow-growing and doesn’t need immediate treatment. It may lay dormant for years. For others, a combination of surgery, radiation, or hormone-blocking therapies may be necessary.

Treating Prostate Cancer with Hormone Therapy

Men with prostate cancer often receive hormone-blocking therapy as part of their treatment plan. Approximately 75 percent of men undergoing this treatment will experience hot flashes. Hot flashes are one of the most common side effects of hormonal therapy, which lowers testosterone and androgens.

Hot flashes and night sweats can be very disruptive to a persons’ quality of life; affecting sleep, sexual function, weight, and mood. Recently, the Oncology Nursing Society released new guidelines to help patients mitigate these issues.2

New Guidelines for Treatment For Hot Flashes Caused by Hormone Therapy

For prostate cancer patients who are currently undergoing hormone-blocking therapy, the Oncology Nursing Society recommends these prescription medication treatment options for treating hot flashes:

  • Antidepressants paroxetine (Paxil) or clonidine (Catapres) as front-line therapy.
  • Sertraline (Zoloft), fluoxetine (Sarafem, Prozac), escitalopram (Lexapro), or duloxetine (Cymbalta) for patients whose symptoms do not respond to paroxetine or clonidine.

For all patients, the panel recommends physical activity, such as exercise or yoga. Anecdotal evidence has shown promise for complementary therapies such as hypnosis, relaxation therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), acupuncture, and electroacupuncture, but the panel cites the need for clinical trials to show significant numbers to warrant recommending these treatments for hormone-related hot flashes.

If you’re considering complementary therapies, it is important to let your oncology team know. To give you the best and safest care possible, they need to have a full picture of your health care, which includes any self-care. And, they may know practitioners who have a proven track record and are licensed and board-certified.

Life After Prostate Cancer

In his article, Life After Prostate Cancer, filmmaker Rick Rosenthal talks about the challenges of prostate cancer and side effects of treatment. He also shares the benefits of the Mediterranean diet and exercise and explains how both helped him get back to the ocean, where he works as a marine biologist.

“I’m in the outdoors. I work in the ocean. I work with wildlife, and it’s very physical,” he said. “I want to get on with my life.” After the grueling treatment and slow recovery, he is cancer-free and back in the ocean.

Looking for more information for prostate cancer? Sign up for e-news to get the most up-to-date articles sent directly to your inbox. 

~Lauren Evoy Davis


References:

1Key Statistics for Prostate Cancer. American Cancer Society.

2Kaplan M, Ginex PK, Michaud LB, et al. ONS Guidelines™ for cancer treatment-related hot flashes in women with breast cancer and men with prostate cancer. Oncol Nurs Forum. 2020;47:374-399.

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