NYM Seeks Treatment for Prostate Cancer Therapy Side Effect

Aug 10, 2007

NYM Seeks Treatment for Prostate Cancer Therapy Side Effect

Date: 8/10/2007

A new study underway at NYM explores the use of acupuncture as a treatment for hot flashes in men with prostate cancer. Research shows that more than 70 percent of males undergoing hormonal therapy for prostate cancer suffer from hot flashes as a side effect of the treatment.Hot flashes are characterized by sudden burning or hot sensations that often start in the head and neck and pass down the entire body in waves. "Hot flashes are often associated with insomnia, fatigue and irritability, and can adversely affect the quality of life for a patient, said Hani Ashamalla, M.D., radiation oncologist at NYM, who is leading the study. "The hot flashes can become so intense that patients with prostate cancer choose to discontinue their hormonal therapy in order to stop the hot flashes, he added.

The new study at NYM investigates the usage of acupuncture as a therapeutic alternative for patients with prostate cancer who are or were treated with hormonal therapy and as a result developed hot flashes. The practice of acupuncture is a centuries-old technique in which very thin needles of varying lengths are inserted into specific locations on the body. Although there is no evidence that acupuncture is effective as a treatment for cancer, it has proven useful as a complementary method for relieving symptoms related to cancer and other conditions such as muscle pain and insomnia. "Studies have shown that acupuncture treatment does benefit postmenopausal women who suffer from hot flashes but studies in men with similar symptoms are lacking, said Dr. Ashamalla.

Participants in the study will undergo acupuncture treatment twice a week for four weeks and then once a week for the following six weeks. "Each acupuncture session lasts about 45 minutes and there is minimal or no pain, said Ming Jiang, L.A.c., who administers the acupuncture. Prior to, and after each session, the patients?hot flashes will be assessed, based on three nationally accredited scoring systems. "Through the usage of the scoring systems we examine the frequency, intensity and duration of the hot flashes and then are able to calculate a score and measure the progress of the treatment, said Mr. Jiang.

Although the study is still in its early stages, the results have proved promising. "Patients have been responding very well to the acupuncture treatment and have shown no adverse side effects, said Dr. Ashamalla. "Our hope is that through this study we will be able to discover a new treatment option for hot flashes so that patients can comfortably maintain their necessary hormonal therapy, he said.

Dr. Ashamalla and his colleagues are currently accepting patients to participate in the study. Patients with prostate cancer who are or were treated with hormonal therapy are invited to contact Sylvia Gonzalez, study coordinator, at 718-780-3680. Participating in the study is free and all results will be given to the patient''s primary care physician and urologist.