Hormone therapy is a cancer treatment that slows or stops the growth of cancer which uses hormones to grow. Hormone therapy is also called hormone treatment, or endocrine therapy.
Hormone therapy is used to:
- Treat cancer. Hormone therapy can lessen the chance that cancer will return or stop or slow its growth.
- Ease cancersymptoms. Hormone therapy may be used to reduce or prevent symptoms in men with prostate cancer who are not able to havesurgery or radiation therapy.
Types of hormone therapy
Hormone therapy falls into two broad groups, those that block the body’s ability to produce hormones and those that interfere with how hormones behave in the body.
Who receives hormone therapy
Hormone therapy is used to treat prostate and breast cancers which use hormones to grow. Hormone therapy is most often used along with other cancer treatments. The types of treatment that you need depend on the type of cancer, if it has spread and how far, if it uses hormones to grow and if you have other health problems.
How hormone therapy is used with other cancer treatments
When used with other treatments, hormone therapy can:
- Reduce the size of a tumor before surgery or radiation therapy. This is called neo-adjuvant therapy.
- Lower the risk that cancer will come back after the main treatment. This is called adjuvant therapy.
Destroy cancer cells that have returned or spread to other parts of your body.
Hormone therapy can cause side effects
Because hormone therapy blocks your body’s ability to produce hormones or interferes with how hormones behave, it can cause unwanted side effects. The side effects you have will depend on the type of hormone therapy you receive and how your body responds to it. People respond differently to the same treatment, so not everyone has the same side effects. Some side effects also differ if you are a man or a woman.
Some common side effects for men who receive hormone therapy for prostate cancer include:
- Hot flashes
- Loss of interest in or ability to have sex
- Weakened bones
- Enlarged and tender breasts
What to expect when receiving hormone therapy
How hormone therapy is administered
Hormone therapy may be administered in many ways. Some common ways include:
- Orally. Hormone therapy comes in pills that you swallow.
- Injection. The hormone therapy is given by an injection into a muscle in your arm, thigh, or hip, or right under the skin in the fatty part of your arm, leg or belly.
- Surgery. You may have surgery to removeorgans that produce hormones. In women, theovariesare removed. In men, the testiclesare removed.
Location of hormone therapy
Where you receive treatment depends on which hormone therapy you are getting and how it is administered. You may take hormone therapy at home. Or, you may receive hormone therapy at a doctor’s practice, clinic or hospital.
How hormone therapy may affect you
Hormone therapy affects people in different ways. How you feel depends on the type of cancer you have, how advanced it is, the type of hormone therapy you are getting and the dose. Your doctors and nurses cannot know for certain how you will feel during the treatment
How can I tell if hormone therapy is working?
If you are taking hormone therapy for prostate cancer, you will have regular PSA tests. If hormone therapy is working, your PSA levels will stay the same or may even go down. But, if your PSA levels go up, this may be a sign that the treatment is no longer effective.
Special dietary needs
Hormone therapy for prostate cancer may cause weight gain. Talk with your doctor, nurse, or dietitian if weight gain becomes a problem for you.
Working during hormone therapy
Hormone therapy should not interfere with your ability to work.
New drugs are appearing in the therapeutic landscape of prostate cancer at an advanced stage. These are therapies that act on the tumor with different action mechanisms, they include new chemotherapy, new radiopharmaceutical and new hormonal therapies.
In case of any adverse event, please contact your doctor.
Source: The National Cancer Institute (https://www.cancer.gov)
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