Does a Common Prostate Cancer Treatment Increase the Risk of Alzheimer’s? JCO Featured Article

September 13, 2017

ASCO Perspective
“The jury is still out on whether there is a true link between androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) and dementia. This study analyzes a broad swath of patients and comes to a reassuring conclusion for the thousands of men who will receive ADT this year. However, we still need prospective studies that look at dementia as an endpoint to address this question more clearly.”

  • Sumanta Pal, MD, ASCO Expert in Prostate Cancer

Androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) is a common hormone therapy frequently used for the treatment of prostate cancer. Prior studies have linked ADT to the risk of developing both Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Researchers analyzed Medicare claims data from more than 1.2 million men over the age of 67 who were diagnosed with prostate cancer between 2001 and 2014. Of those, 35% received androgen deprivation therapy (ADT).

  • Patients were followed for an average of 5.5 years. Of the men who received ADT, 8.9% developed Alzheimer’s disease and 18.8% developed dementia.
  • Patients who received ADT had a higher rate of Alzheimer’s disease (approximately 17% vs. 15.5%) and dementia (approximately 38.5% vs. 32.9%) than those who did not receive ADT.
  • However, after adjusting for variables such as the patient’s age, other cancer treatments, and other chronic diseases, ADT was not associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and was associated with only a small, 1% increase in risk for dementia.
  • Subsequent analyses found no association, regardless of which state the patient resided in or the duration of ADT.

The authors conclude that, among the population of male Medicare beneficiaries over age 67, ADT does not present an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

From the Journal of Clinical Oncology: Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease Among Senior Medicare Beneficiaries Treated With Androgen Deprivation Therapy for Prostate CancerSeo Hyon Baik, et al.