Agent Orange Exposure and Prostate Cancer

Categories: Spring 2019
A large-scale examination found that exposure to Agent Orange did not necessarily lead to worse outcomes for prostate cancer patients, although men exposed to the chemical developed advanced cancer at a younger age.

Agent Orange is a chemical toxin that was used by military forces during the Vietnam War.

A new study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison included data on more than 87,000 patients, including 3,475 who were exposed to Agent Orange. All the patients in the study had advanced prostate cancer and were receiving androgen deprivation therapy (ADT, also known as hormone therapy).

Overall, the study’s results indicated that Agent Orange exposure does not necessarily lead to more aggressive cancer. Men with Agent Orange exposure had lower PSAs and were more likely to receive both localized therapy and chemotherapy, compared to men who hadn’t been exposed to Agent Orange.

However, men in the study who were exposed to Agent Orange were younger than men who hadn’t been exposed. This is not surprising, considering that exposure to the chemical has been linked to a number of cancers, including prostate cancer. Men exposed to Agent Orange were a median age of 60 when they were diagnosed with incurable prostate cancer, compared to age 75 for nonexposed men. Still, men exposed to Agent Orange lived longer than men who hadn’t been exposed (a median of 82.6 months, compared to 64.2 months).

J Urol. 2019 Apr;201(4):742-750. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2018.10.005.

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