Originally published May 13 2015
Prostate cancer treatments cause men to experience menopause!
by David Gutierrez, staff writer
(NaturalNews) Menopause-like symptoms are a common side effect of a major prostate cancer treatment, but many men are not adequately warned of this possibility.
"Men are warned about side-effects, but clinic appointment times are not long, so doctors can't realistically talk through them all in detail," said Ali Rooke, a specialist nurse at Prostate Cancer UK. "It's also hard to predict what side-effects a man will have and how he will respond."
The symptoms occur as side effects of hormone therapy, which is usually the first-line treatment for advanced prostate cancer (which has spread to other organs) and often used as a complementary treatment to radiation in some cases of localized prostate cancer. In either case, the therapy starves the prostate tumor of the testosterone that it uses to grow -- but the rest of the body also becomes deficient in the hormone.
In many cases, men with advanced prostate cancer can expect to be on hormone therapy for the rest of their lives.
Hot flashes, mood swings, weight gainMen undergoing hormone therapy for prostate cancer receive regular injections or implants of drugs that block the pituitary gland from releasing luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone. This, in turn, shuts off the system that signals the testes to produce testosterone. While this cannot cure prostate cancer, it does slow its growth to enable other forms of treatment and make it less likely to spread.
"Testosterone is a man's natural source of energy, so along with hot flushes we often see fatigue," Rooke said. "It also has an important role in sexual function, so there can be a loss of libido.
"There can be mood swings and depression; some men also report breast swelling, nipple tenderness and weight gain around the middle. All of these are similar to what women go through during the menopause, when levels of their equivalent hormone, oestrogen, start to fall."
Hormone therapy also increases the risk of fragile bones, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
"People don't tell you much about hormone therapy at the beginning," a 54-year-old prostate cancer patient identified as "Craig" told the Daily Mail. "I am basically a menopausal man. I have mood swings and I've put on two-and-a-half stone [35 pounds]. But the worst thing has been the hot sweats. I'm up a few times a night, sometimes having to change the sheets and it's tiring."
Eighty percent of men affectedAccording to studies by Prostate Cancer UK, about 80 percent of men on hormone therapy suffer from hot flashes.
"I have about ten to 12 flushes a day, and six to eight at night," Craig said. "I know when one's coming. The feeling suddenly builds up as if you've gone into a sauna. Within minutes I'm in full sweat. Five or ten minutes later, it's gone."
Men who complain to their doctors of menopausal side effects are often prescribed drugs based on the female hormone progesterone. But there are also non-pharmaceutical options. Many men report relief from acupuncture, sage tea or black cohosh.
In addition, a recent study from King's College London found that cognitive behavioral therapy -- a therapeutic technique that teaches people to understand the connections between their thoughts, beliefs and behaviors -- resulted in hot flashes being 36 percent less common and 40 percent less severe. The improvements in a placebo group were only 12 percent and 16 percent, respectively.
In part, the technique works by addressing narratives that make the symptoms feel worse.
"Women feel hot flushes are a signifier of their age and reproductive status," researcher Myra Hunter said. "In our interviews with men, we found the hot flushes signified a threat to their masculinity."
"[T]hey catastrophised, so if they had one in the night they assumed they'd feel terrible the next day."
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