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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 “It's a couples' thing: Prostate Cancer and its Impact on Sexuality and Quality".

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