What are the possible side-effects and risks?

As with all treatments, ADT carries possible side-effects and risks. The following is a list of what these might be.  Don’t be alarmed: talk to your doctor and health care team to find out how your treatment might affect you and what you can do to manage any side-effects.
  • Possible side-effects include:
    • Hot flashes
    • Decreased libido and erectile dysfunction  (not being able to have an erection)
    • Loss of energy, general weakness
    • Breast enlargement and tenderness
    • Irritability, emotional disturbance including depression
    • Headache
    • Itching, dry skin, rash
    • Gastrointestinal issues: diarrhea, nausea, vomiting
    • Loss of muscle mass
    • Weight gain (mainly due to increased body fat)
    • Shrinkage of testicles
    • ‘Metabolic syndrome’ (increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cholesterol)
  • Long-term use (over a year) may lead to:
    • Osteoporosis
    • Lower blood counts or anemia
This list may appear daunting.  However, remember that there are a number of things that you and your doctor can do to reduce the side effects of ADT.
 
The following approaches can be used to address side effects:
  • You may be prescribed drugs to slow or reverse the loss of bone mass and you should discuss with your doctor whether or not you should have a bone density study
  • Exercise can help to reduce some of the side effects, including bone loss, muscle loss, weight gain, fatigue and insulin resistance
  • Loss of libido can be more challenging to address, but please take a look at our webinar “What’s love got to do with it? Sexuality and the Man with Prostate Cancer” by Dr. Anne Katz.
Please know that you can always call our Prostate Cancer Information Service at 1-855-722-4636 to speak to someone about any of your treatments.  They can provide information and support across the cancer continuum.

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