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J Natl Cancer Inst. 2010 Dec 1;102(23):1760-70. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djq419. Epub 2010 Nov 10.

Risk of colorectal cancer in men on long-term androgen deprivation therapy for prostate cancer.

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  • 1Department of Medical Oncology, Kantonsspital, St Gallen, Switzerland.



Androgen deprivation with gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists or orchiectomy is a common but controversial treatment for prostate cancer. Uncertainties remain about its use, particularly with increasing recognition of serious side effects. In animal studies, androgens protect against colonic carcinogenesis, suggesting that androgen deprivation may increase the risk of colorectal cancer.


We identified 107‚ÄČ859 men in the linked Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare database who were diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1993 through 2002, with follow-up available through 2004. The primary outcome was development of colorectal cancer, determined from SEER files on second primary cancers. Cox proportional hazards regression was used to assess the influence of androgen deprivation on the outcome, adjusted for patient and prostate cancer characteristics. All statistical tests were two-sided.


Men who had orchiectomies had the highest unadjusted incidence rate of colorectal cancer (6.3 per 1000 person-years; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 5.3 to 7.5), followed by men who had GnRH agonist therapy (4.4 per 1000 person-years; 95% CI = 4.0 to 4.9), and men who had no androgen deprivation (3.7 per 1000 person-years; 95% CI = 3.5 to 3.9). After adjustment for patient and prostate cancer characteristics, there was a statistically significant dose-response effect (P(trend) = .010) with an increasing risk of colorectal cancer associated with increasing duration of androgen deprivation. Compared with the absence of these treatments, there was an increased risk of colorectal cancer associated with use of GnRH agonist therapy for 25 months or longer (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.31, 95% CI = 1.12 to 1.53) or with orchiectomy (HR = 1.37, 95% CI = 1.14 to 1.66).


Long-term androgen deprivation therapy for prostate cancer is associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer.

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