Easing side effects of prostate cancer treatment through nutrition and exercise

More men are living longer after being diagnosed with prostate cancer, but the most common treatment leaves men with ongoing debilitating side effects. Dr Brenton Baguley is working to improve health outcomes and quality of life during and post-treatment.

A new IPAN-led intervention could relieve the side effects men suffer when they are treated with androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) for prostate cancer.

The rapid increase in the use of the hormone treatment ADT has helped more men survive a prostate cancer diagnosis, but the treatment causes adverse effects such as weight gain, muscle loss, and reduced physical function and strength. These changes have been linked to an increased risk of chronic disease and early death.

A nutritious diet combined with adequate exercise are important strategies to manage these side effects – however men are not currently routinely referred for clinical nutrition and/or exercise services as part of their treatment.

Through a Victorian Cancer Agency Early Career Research Fellowship, Dr Brenton Baguley is developing a web platform called PRO-Health (Prostate cancer specific healthy eating and exercise).

PRO-Health will provide men with individualised nutrition and exercise educational material to manage side effects from ADT, focusing on counteracting the weight and fat mass gains from ADT.

The program will be integrated with video consultations from nutrition and exercise health care professionals to guide men through individualised care for healthy weight loss and management of other side effects from ADT.

“Being a web-based program, PRO-Health will open up nutrition and exercise services to men who may not have been able to access them previously, for example those living remotely,” Dr Baguley said.

He is working with a team of experts across Deakin University, as well as with consumers and health care professionals, to develop the program. It will then be tested in a 12-week randomised controlled trial.

“A strong focus of this research program is the input from consumers and stakeholders,” Dr Baguley said. “We have the support of the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and we’re engaging with those who have been directly affected by prostate cancer to give us valuable insights into how we can best deliver these services to men alongside their current medical care.”

Dr Baguley hopes his fellowship work will demonstrate the program is ready to implement at a clinical level; and lead to all men treated with ADT receiving nutrition and exercise support.