Might there be a genetic marker that indicates how ADT affects a man’s quality of life?

This study is a step toward personalized medicine, where the treatment provided for a patient is matched to the patient’s genetic profile in a way that either maximizes the effectiveness of the treatment or minimizes side effects. 

The researchers here focused on one particular gene, known to affect nerve function in the brain and thus factors like patients’ mood. The authors looked at two different forms of the genes in 75 prostate cancer patients treated with ADT and 131 not treated with ADT. All the men filled in questionnaires that looked at a variety of factors associated with quality of life, such as how well they were functioning in relation to hormonally-related side effects and depression.

The authors found that some patients may have a genetic profile that makes them more or less burdened by ADT.  The study was not long term and the authors quite correctly recognize that the quality of life differences they observed need to be balanced against the effectiveness of the ADT; i.e., it might just be that patients with one genetic pattern tolerate ADT better than those with a different genetic pattern, but don’t get as good cancer control. Thus, as the authors note, their study needs to be repeated with more patients and run over a much longer period.  But it is a good example of what is on the horizon in terms of personalized medicine.


Karunasinghe N, Zhu Y, Han DY, Lange K, Zhu S, Wang A, Ellett S, Masters J, Goudie M, Keogh J, Benjamin B, Holmes M, Ferguson LR. 2016. Quality of life effects of androgen deprivation therapy in a prostate cancer cohort in New Zealand: can we minimize effects using a stratification based on the aldo-keto reductase family 1, member C3 rs12529 gene polymorphism? BMC Urol 16(1):48. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27485119