Androgen-Deprivation Therapy May Be Associated With Higher Risk of Heart Failure in Early-Stage Prostate Cancer


Key Points

  • Androgen-deprivation therapy was associated with an 81% increased risk of heart failure in men without preexisting cardiovascular disease.
  • Men with preexisting cardiovascular disease who received androgen-deprivation therapy had an increased risk of heart rhythm problems (including a 44% increased risk of arrhythmia) and were three times more likely to develop conduction disorder.

Men with localized prostate cancer who received androgen-deprivation therapy were at significantly higher risk of heart failure than men who did not receive this therapy, according to a Kaiser Permanente study published by Haque et al in the British Journal of Cancer.

In the past, androgen-deprivation therapy has been used for advanced prostate cancer, but it is increasingly being used to treat localized prostate cancer. However, the safety, risk, and benefits of this therapy have not been established, said lead author Reina Haque, PhD, MPH, a researcher with the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation.

The goal of androgen-deprivation therapy is to reduce levels of androgens in order to stop them from stimulating prostate cancer cells to grow. Androgen-deprivation therapy can lower androgen to the same level as surgical castration within 3 weeks. This research, which looked at a large cohort of men with localized prostate cancer, suggests androgen-deprivation therapy may be related to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in this population.


Kaiser Permanente researchers followed a cohort of 7,637 men diagnosed with localized prostate cancer between 1998 and 2008 who were initially under “watchful waiting.” Researchers followed them for up to 12 years after diagnosis. Nearly 30% were treated with androgen-deprivation therapy. Many of the men were under the age of 60.

To determine the effect of androgen-deprivation therapy on men with localized prostate cancer, researchers assessed a comprehensive set of factors, including preexisting cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, use of cardiovascular medications, smoking, body mass index, and prostate-specific antigen levels. This allowed the researchers to account for the differences that could increase the risk of heart attacks, such as smoking or previous cardiovascular disease.

The study found that for men with localized prostate cancer, androgen-deprivation therapy was associated with:

  • An 81% increased risk of heart failure in men without preexisting cardiovascular disease;
  • An increased risk of heart rhythm problems for men with preexisting cardiovascular disease, including a 44% increased risk of arrhythmia;
  • An increased risk (three times more likely) for men with preexisting cardiovascular disease of developing conduction disorder, an interruption of the electrical impulses to the heart.

“The implication is that patients with localized prostate cancer should be followed to minimize the health effects of androgen deprivation therapy on the cardiovascular system,” Dr. Haque said. “Patients should consider lifestyle changes and physicians should actively monitor the patient’s health for early signs of heart disease.”

“The findings allow men with localized prostate cancer to consider the positive and negative effects of androgen-deprivation therapy and discuss it with their physicians,” continued Dr. Haque. “If they move forward with the therapy, patients should work with their physicians to adjust their lifestyle to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.”

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.