Austin Center RADIATION Oncology

Doctor Day – Hot flashes and radiation therapy

hot flashes

What are hot flashes?

Hot flashes frequently occur in men receiving hormone therapy for the treatment of prostate cancer. They are best described as a sudden feeling of being warm that may be associated with sweating and the flushing of skin. However, the opposite can also occur. Men may have a sudden feeling of being cold or having chills. In either case, it can be very uncomfortable.

When prostate cancer patients are treated with Androgen Deprivation Therapy (ADT), also known as Hormone Deprivation Therapy, the goal is to reduce the levels of androgens in the body (such as testosterone). This is done in order to prevent prostate cancer cells from growing and spreading. Common side effects of Androgen Deprivation Therapy are:

  • Hot flashes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Decreased libido
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Muscle loss
  • Weight gain

Lifestyle changes

Hot flashes can be very uncomfortable for men during their treatment. To  help minimize their effects, we recommend the following:

  • Keep cool. Dress in layers so that you can remove clothing when you feel warm. Open windows, use a fan or air conditioner. Lower the room temperature.
  • Watch what you eat & drink. Hot and spicy foods, caffeinated beverages, and alcohol can trigger hot flashes. Learn to recognize your triggers and avoid them.
  • Relax. Some men find relief from hot flashes through exercise, meditation, slow and deep breathing, or other stress-reducing techniques.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking is linked to increased hot flashes. By not smoking, you will also reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer.
  • Lose weight. If you are overweight or obese, losing weight might help ease your hot flashes.

Medications

If they interfere with your everyday life and persist despite attempting lifestyle changes, talk to your doctor. There are a number of medications that can be prescribed to help manage them including:

  • Oxybutynin
  • Beta Blockers
  • Catapres
  • Venlafaxine
  • Gabapentin

If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer and would like to learn more about radiation therapy, contact the Austin Center for Radiation Oncology to schedule a consultation with Dr. Richard Garza.