Hidayatullah G. Munshi, MD

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Metabolic Syndrome After Hormone-Modifying Therapy: Risks Associated With Antineoplastic Therapy

August 15th 2010

The incidence of metabolic syndrome is rapidly increasing. Metabolic syndrome is associated with elevated morbidity and mortality secondary to cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, and hepatic dysfunction. A body of evidence has already implicated metabolic syndrome as a cancer risk factor; emerging evidence now suggests that cancer survivors themselves may be at risk for developing metabolic syndrome as a result of their anti-cancer therapy. Treatment of both breast cancer and prostate cancer often involves hormone-modifying agents that have been linked to features of metabolic syndrome. Androgen suppression in men with prostate cancer is associated with dyslipidemia, increasing risk of cardiovascular disease, and insulin resistance. Anti-estrogen therapy in women with breast cancer can affect lipid profiles, cardiovascular risk, and liver function. Similar findings have been noted in men with testicular cancer treated with chemotherapy. In addition, several emerging therapies, including mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitors and targeted kinase inhibitors, are increasingly associated with some features of metabolic syndrome. As the number of cancer survivors continues to grow, consideration of these factors and of the risk of metabolic syndrome will become increasingly important when choosing between therapy options and managing long-term follow-up.