16/01/2023 | Press releases

Research group helps men manage hot flushes for prostate cancer treatment

Men experiencing hot flushes caused by hormone cancer treatment are being helped through a research study at Ipswich Hospital.

One of the treatments for prostate cancer is hormone therapy. Alongside radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or as a standalone treatment, hormone therapy can help manage the condition for men with prostate cancer over short months to life-long treatment.

But a common side effect of hormone treatment can be hot flushes, so men experiencing the side effect have been benefitting from a research study using group workshops and a range of methods to manage the issue.

grey-haired man in winter coat smiling at camera
Ian Gander

Ian Gander, 74, was diagnosed with stage 3 prostate cancer on New Year’s Eve 2019. Ian went on to have radiotherapy at Ipswich Hospital and still having hormone therapy to manage the cancer.

The grandfather-of-four said: “Hormone therapy has had quite an impact on my body – including hot flushes. I put on weight then managed to lose some, but I continued to get hot flushes.

“They’re not as bad as some experience, but last up to a minute, and at one time I was having around 10 flushes a day.”

grey-haired man smiling at camera
Ian Gander

Although there’s no cure for hot flushes, patients living with prostate cancer were invited to take part in the workshop-based sessions as part of a study called MANCAN2, which looked at ways to manage the condition through cognitive behavioural therapy, including breathing techniques and relaxation exercises.

Ian, who lives near Woodbridge, added: “I learnt a lot more about the hot sweats and it was really worthwhile meeting other men in a similar position to me.”

Macmillan urology clinical nurse specialist Peter Lobley ran the sessions for the study, which included two workshops with a four-week break in the middle where participants are encouraged to work through the mancan2 self-help cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) booklet and to listen to the mancan2 breathing and relaxation exercises.

Room with men sitting in circle talking. Sitting in coloured tub chairs.

He said: “Hormone therapy helps deprive the tumour of testosterone helping to treat the prostate cancer. Patients can be on hormone therapy for a few months or their whole life.

“The sessions have offered useful tools for people to cope, such as relaxation techniques and breathing exercises, as well as talking through other lifestyle life modifications.

“This is an example of how we can support patients living with and beyond a cancer diagnosis by reducing the side-effect of treatment with the aim of improving quality of life.”

Urology clinical nurse specialist James Hemmings, who works alongside Peter, added: “As well as looking at ways to manage the side effect of hot flushes, this study is really important in allowing patients to talk about their shared experience of living with prostate cancer. Particularly after the pandemic when traditional support groups haven’t been available.

“We are proud of the work that we have been able to achieve, this is the first opportunity that our small team has had with the support of the Cancer Research Team to undertake research to support patients with prostate cancer with the aim to improve prostate cancer outcomes, we look forward to take part in more research projects.”

Another participant said he’d found the sessions really helpful for listening to and sharing the daily stress of living with cancer and not knowing what was around the corner.

He said: “You have your PSA levels checked every couple of months and it’s really stressful waiting to see if it’s gone up or maintained.”

PSA is looking for the ‘prostate-specific antigen’ in a person’s blood, and is done as part of a diagnosis of prostate cancer as well as regularly through treatment.

He added: “You’re living with a stressful situation all the time when you have a terminal illness – and it’s hard to even fully know what ‘terminal’ means. Being able to participate and meet others in the same position has been very useful.”

The MANCAN2 study is currently running at nine hospital sites across the UK and aims to recruit up to 180 people who are experiencing side effects from hormone treatment for prostate cancer.

Recruitment is expected to close on 28 February 2023. The results will be published when the study analysis is complete, which is expected to be April 2024. The study is run by the Southampton Clinical Trials Unit and is funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).

Symptoms of prostate cancer are a need to wee more often, straining to wee or feeling you haven’t fully emptied your bladder. If you are concerned, speak to you GP or health professional.

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