Hormone therapy is a cancer treatment that slows or stops the proliferation of cancer cells that rely on hormones to thrive. Hormone therapy, also known as hormone treatment or endocrine therapy, is a type of treatment that involves the use of hormones.
Hormone therapy is used to:
- Treat cancer. Hormone therapy can reduce the chances of cancer returning, as well as stop or delay its progression.
- Ease cancer symptoms. Hormone therapy may be used to relieve or prevent symptoms in men who are unable to undergo surgery or radiation therapy for prostate cancer.
Types of Hormone Therapy
Hormone therapy is divided into two types: those that prevent the body from producing hormones and those that interfere with how hormones operate in the body.
Who Receives The Therapy?
Prostate and breast cancers that utilize hormones to proliferate are treated with hormone therapy. Hormone therapy is frequently used in conjunction with other cancer therapies. Treatment options depend on the kind of cancer. Options depend on if cancer has spread, how far it has spread, whether it requires hormones to develop, and whether you have any other health issues.
Hormone Therapy Used To Treat Other Cancer
Hormone therapy, when combined with other treatments, can:
- Neoadjuvant therapy: Reduce the size of a tumor before surgery or radiation therapy.
- Adjuvant therapy: Reduce the chances of cancer reappearing after the primary treatment.
- Cancer cells that have returned or spread to other places of your body should be destroyed.
Are There Side Effects?
Hormone therapy might cause unpleasant side effects because it inhibits your body’s ability to manufacture hormones or interacts with how hormones behave. The sort of hormone therapy you receive and how your body reacts to it will determine the adverse effects you experience.
Because people react to the same treatment in different ways, not everyone has the same side effects. Some side effects change depending on whether you are a male or a woman.
The following are some of the most common side effects experienced by men receiving hormone therapy for prostate cancer:
- weakened bones
- hot flashes
- decreased desire or inability to have sex
- enlarged and tender breasts
Find out more about men’s sexual health difficulties that men with cancer face.
The following are some of the most common side effects experienced by women receiving hormone therapy for breast cancer:
- hot flashes/vaginal dryness/loss of interest in sex
- changes in your periods (if you still have them)
- mood swings
Learn more about women’s sexual health and the difficulties that female cancer patients face.
How Hormone Therapy Is Taken
Hormone therapy can be administered in a variety of ways. Among the most common methods are:
- Oral. Administer hormone therapy through pills.
- Injection. Take a hormone treatment through a shot into a muscle or fatty area in your arm, thigh, leg, stomach, or hip
- Surgery. You may need surgery to remove hormone-producing organs. The ovaries are removed from women. The testicles are removed from men.
A combination of hormone therapy and chemotherapy is used to treat some women with advanced breast cancer. Hormone-sensitive breast cancer is treated using a variety of approaches:
Blocking ovarian function: Because the ovaries are the primary source of estrogen in premenopausal women, ovarian activity can be eliminated or suppressed to lower estrogen levels. Ovarian ablation is the process of inhibiting ovarian function.
Blocking estrogen production: Aromatase inhibitors are drugs that stop the body from making estrogen in the ovaries and other tissues by blocking the activity of an enzyme called aromatase.
Tamoxifen is usually given first to men with early-stage ER-positive breast cancer who are receiving adjuvant therapy. A GnRH agonist is frequently given to those who are on an aromatase inhibitor.