Various Factors Cause Hot Flashes in Prostate Cancer Patients

Age and weight found to play a role in side effects.

Age and weight found to play a role in side effects.

Genetic factors and physical characteristics play a role in prostate cancer patients experiencing hot flashes, according to a recent study.

Many patients with advanced prostate cancer commonly receive androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), but approximately 80% of these patients experience hot flashes during and after treatment. More than 25% of prostate cancer patients report hot flashes are the most difficult side effect from ADT, which can often persist for years after the completion of treatment.

The researchers sought to determine which patients are more likely to suffer hot flashes in hopes of helping physicians make better treatment decisions. The study compared 60 prostate cancer patients on ADT with 83 prostate cancer patients who did not receive ADT and 86 men without cancer.

The researchers found that patients on ADT experienced significantly more hot flashes after 6 months and 12 months following the start of therapy when compared with the other 2 control groups combined. Additionally, hot flash severity was found to increase over time in the ADT group.

These patients indicated that the hot flashes affected leisure activities, sleep, and their overall quality of life.

By examining patient characteristics and DNA to evaluate which factors are associated with increased hot flashes, the researchers found men who were younger and had a lower body mass index suffered more hot flashes and greater interference with their daily lives. The researchers also noted that the presence of specific genes associated with processes such as immune function, nerve impulse transmission, blood vessel constriction, and circadian rhythms were linked with an increased number of hot flashes.

"This study is a concrete step towards identifying which patients are more likely to experience these distressing symptoms," said Mayer Fishman, MD, PhD, in a press release.