Prostate cancer patients undergoing androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) experience hot flashes

By: Mohan Garikiparithi | Cancer | Friday, February 19, 2016 - 04:30 PM

prostate-cancer-patients-underging-androgen-deprivation-therapyProstate cancer patients undergoing androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) experience hot flashes. ADT is a common treatment for prostate cancer in its advanced stage, yet nearly 80 percent of ADT patients experience hot flashes. Researchers from Moffitt Cancer Center looked to explore why the phenomenon may occur and determine genetic factors along with other characteristics that would determine why some men experience hot flashes while on ADT and others do not.

Some patients experience hot flashes while being treated with ADT and others experience them after the treatment is complete. To determine what may be responsible for the hot flashes, researchers compared 60 prostate cancer patients on ADT with 83 prostate cancer patients who were not treated with ADT, and an additional 86 men without cancer. The researchers found that men on ADT experience hot flashes more commonly at six months and one year, compared to the other two groups. The men who experienced hot flashes reported that these incidences interrupted their daily life such as sleep and activities.

The researchers also analyzed the patients’ DNA and other characteristics to determine factors that may play a role in the hot flashes occurrence. They found that younger men with lower body mass indexes were more likely to experience hot flashes, which they felt also interfered with their daily life. Researchers also found that the presence of certain genes played a role in hot flashes, too.

Hot flashes in men: symptoms, treatment, and therapies

When it comes to hot flashes, in either men or women, hormones play a large role. Hot flashes are commonly experienced by women during menopause, but men can experience them as well. For women, declining estrogen is primarily to blame for hot flashes, but in men, their testosterone levels don’t drop dramatically through aging like estrogen does in women. In fact, testosterone only drops one percent annually after the age of 40, meaning that many men can still maintain normal levels. In the case of male hot flashes, ADT is to blame.

Hot flashes can be described as a sudden wave of warmth or flushing, which primarily is felt over the head and the trunk. The skin can become visibly red, and a person can begin sweating as well.

Hot flashes are most intense at night, but only last for short moments, although they can occur numerous times a day, impeding your daily activities.

Treatment for hot flashes in men on ADT results in the use of hormone replacement therapy, more specifically, increasing their estrogen levels and not their testosterone levels. Unfortunately, there are side effects for men taking estrogen. Some men report breast sweating and breast tenderness. Unfortunately, for many estrogen products, the cardiovascular side effects are still unknown.

Aside from hormones, the use of antidepressants has been shown to help improve hot flashes in both men and women. Anti-seizure medications, too, have been shown to offer relief against hot flashes with dizziness being the only reported side effect.

Tips on managing hot flashes and sweats

Other causes and symptoms of hot flashes in menopauseSweating and hot flashes can be a nuisance, but there are steps you can take in order to either reduce their severity or simply better manage them. Tips on managing hot flashes and sweats include:

  • Cutting out coffee, tea, and nicotine
  • Keeping your room as cool as possible, consider adding a fan
  • Spraying your face with cool water
  • Wearing layers of light clothing, so you can remove them when you get too hot
  • Wearing natural fibers like cotton, which are more breathable than man-made fibers
  • Reducing your alcohol intake
  • Drinking cool or cold beverages
  • Taking a lukewarm or cool bath or shower instead of a hot one
  • Putting a towel on your bed in case you sweat a lot to avoid drenching the sheets
  • Using a cooling pad on your pillow

Cognitive behavior therapy has also been shown to help with the management of hot flashes. Cognitive behavior therapy helps us recognize our behaviors so that we can change them. It helps us to understand how our thought process affects our feelings and teaches us to calm our feelings, body, and mind.

Research has been conducted to determine the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy in conjunction with hot flashes relief and found that not only did the therapy reduce sweating, but the women involved in the study slept better, felt better, and their overall quality of life improved as well.

Whether you’re a man or a woman, hot flashes can impede your daily life. With the many treatment options available, speaking with your doctor can help you narrow down which one is best for you.

Related Reading: 

Menopausal hot flashes and night sweats: role of genes, causes, and prevention

Menopausal hot flashes and night sweats can make living in your own skin seem unbearable. The constant heat and sweating can be uncomfortable and make sleeping quite difficult. A hot flash is a sudden feeling of heat, sometimes followed by redness and sweating. The cause of hot flashes is still unknown, but they tend to be a common symptom of menopause. Some doctors believe that hot flashes occur due to changes in circulation. How long a hot flash will last is different for each woman. Continue reading…

Effective and ineffective methods to tame hot flashes without hormones

A common symptom of menopause is hot flashes. Roughly three-quarters of American women suffer from them while going through menopause. One mode of treatment for hot flashes is the use of hormones, but many women – for medical or personal reasons – do not take them. Therefore, there is a need for effective treatment methods of hot flashes without the use of hormones. Continue reading…


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