Tag Archive for: prostate cancer hormone therapy

Does Prostate Cancer Hormone Therapy Cause Cognitive Issues?

Does Prostate Cancer Hormone Therapy Cause Cognitive Issues? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo

Could hormone therapy for prostate cancer lead to cognitive issues? Expert Dr. Tanya Dorff discusses whether there’s a link and explains which treatments may be helpful for cognitive issues.

Dr. Tanya Dorff is Associate Professor in the Department of Medical Oncology & Therapeutics Research at City of Hope. Learn more about Dr. Dorff.

Related Resources:

Tools for Partnering in Your Prostate Cancer Care

Thriving With Prostate Cancer: What You Should Know About Care and Treatment

Managing the Side Effects of Advanced Prostate Cancer Treatment



We received some audience questions prior to today’s webinar, and I’d like to go through some of them with you. Bob asks, “Does androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) cause cognitive issues?” 

Dr. Dorff:

So, androgen deprivation therapy is another way of saying hormone therapy. We’re lowering testosterone, which is an androgen, and the question about cognitive issues is a good one. If you look in the literature, it’s not been well-documented, and part of that is because our patients tend to have age and other comorbidities that can lead to changes in cognition happening at the same time as they’re being treated for prostate cancer, but also because the tools just haven’t been very good. 

The tests where we measure how your brain is working have traditionally not been very good. There are some better tools that have been developed, and we’re hoping to be able to – with some ongoing studies – better define are there cognitive changes? If so, how severe are they, how common are they, are they more common with one drug versus another? Very basic questions. 

I will say in my own practice, after 15 years of treating prostate cancer, I do believe that some patients experience cognitive changes during ADT. They can be mild, like taking longer to remember someone’s name or walking into a room and forgetting why you’re there, which, frankly, happens to all of us when we’re not having our best days, but obviously, I do see that a little bit more with prostate cancer patients who are receiving hormonal therapy.  

For some of my really high-functioning patients, it can be helpful to use a drug that treats attention because some of the cognitive dysfunction actually ends up being an issue with attention. So, we use drugs like methylphenidate (Ritalin) or dextroamphetamine mixed salts (Adderall) to support patients who need to be really focused, and I’ve had many patients tell me that that has made a huge difference for them, so it’s not going to solve the overall changes that may happen in the brain on the basis of the hormonal deprivation, which we know happens from animal models, but it can help in the short term so that men can continue to function at a high cognitive level, despite ADT, when needed.