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Cancer treatment risks for men with prior cardiac histories

A number of our posts focus on the legal duty that physicians, nurses and hospital staff in using reasonable care in treating patients. A large part of that duty involves properly assessing patients for treatments; which may include asking questions about what drugs a patient may be allergic to and what their prior medical history involves.

A recent story exemplifies the importance of these screenings. According to a recent study featured on the site, certain prostate cancer treatments could lead to increased risk of death from heart-related causes. Specifically, men with prior cardiac histories or a diagnosis of congestive heart failure were found to be at risk when undergoing androgen deprivation therapy (ADT).

ADT focuses on reducing levels of male hormones in the body so that cancer cells will not be stimulated, thus preventing further growth of cancerous cells. Despite the success of this treatment, patients have seen an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and even heart attacks.

The study that investigated the link involved over 5,000 men with prostate cancer who were treated between 1997 and 2006. In patients that had prior congestive heart failure or prior heart attacks, the risk of heart-related deaths increased by 3.3 times when treated with ADT.  Conversely, patients who had no prior cardiac risk factors had no correlation between ADT and heart related deaths.

The authors of the study acknowledged that further testing and research was necessary, but the sample study provided a reason for avoiding ADT in patients with prior cardiac histories. 

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