Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer, affecting roughly 1 in 7 men over the course of a lifetime. Fortunately, the majority of prostate cancer cases are caught early and are classified as low-risk. Less fortunately, a potentially harmful treatment called testosterone therapy is still commonly prescribed to early-stage prostate cancer treatments despite evidence that it is largely ineffective.
Testosterone therapy, also referred to as androgen deprivation therapy, is a form of chemical castration that reduces the production of testosterone in order to stop the spread of prostate cancer. It is often used if a patient cannot have surgery or radiation treatment due to the cancer spreading beyond the prostate gland, or in conjunction with radiation for patients who are at a higher risk of recurrence. Unfortunately, the therapy has also been linked to a number of serious side effects, including hot flashes, shrinking genitalia, impotence, diabetes, bone thinning, increased cholesterol, and depression.
The common wisdom for decades has been that the potential side effects of testosterone therapy are worth the benefits of fighting prostate cancer and prolonging a patient’s life, but a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine concludes that the side effects actually outweigh the benefits. The study followed 66,700 men with early-stage prostate cancer over the course of 15 years and found that the men who received testosterone therapy did not live any longer, on average, than the men who did not. The implication is that testosterone therapy does not improve long-term survival rate for early-stage prostate cancer patients and may not be worth the many side effects that could significantly alter a patient’s quality of life.
Dr. James M. McKiernan, a urologist and one of the researchers involved with the study, points out that this is not the first study suggesting there is no substantial benefit to testosterone therapy, yet doctors continue to prescribe the treatment regularly to early-stage cancer patients. All too often, the patients who are put on testosterone therapy face serious health consequences such as broken bones (due to bone thinning), diabetes, and heart disease.
What to Do If You’ve Suffered Serious Side Effects from Testosterone Therapy
If you’ve been prescribed androgen deprivation therapy for early-stage prostate cancer and have experienced devastating side effects as a result, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Because there is evidence that testosterone therapy does more harm than good, a doctor who prescribes the treatment to their patient might be considered negligent and found liable in the event that the patient suffers from a serious injury or disease as a result of the therapy.
The best way to determine if you have a case is to set up an initial consultation with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. You should work with someone who has experience handling medical malpractice cases, as these can be complex and will likely involve going up against a legal team assembled by the hospital. Your attorney should look at the unique details of your case to help you decide if your medical provider may be liable and if you may be entitled to monetary compensation as a result.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Lawlor Winston White & Murphey. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, and was recently voted by his peers as a Florida “SuperLawyer”—an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state—and to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite.”