Dr. Linette Williamson - Hormone Therapy in Oceanside
Hormone Therapy to Treat Cancer
Hormone therapy is a cancer treatment that slows or stops the growth of cancer that uses hormones to grow. Hormone therapy is also called hormonal therapy, hormone treatment, or endocrine therapy.
How Hormone Therapy Works Against Cancer
Hormone therapy is used to:
- Treat cancer-- Hormone therapy can reduce the possibility that cancer will return or stop or slow its growth
- Ease cancer symptoms-- Hormone therapy may be used to minimize or prevent symptoms in males with prostate cancer who are unable to have surgery or radiation therapy
Types of Hormone Therapy
Hormone therapy falls under two broad groups, those that stop the body's ability to produce hormones and those that disrupt how hormones behave in the body.
Who Receives Hormone Therapy
Hormone therapy is used to treat prostate and breast cancers that use hormones to grow. Hormone therapy is usually used along with other cancer treatments. The kinds 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:
- Make a tumor shrink before surgery or radiation therapy-- This is called neoadjuvant therapy
- Reduce the risk that cancer will return after the main treatment-- This is called adjuvant therapy
- Destroy cancer cells that have returned or infected other parts of your body
Hormone Therapy Can Cause Side Effects
Because hormone therapy blocks your body's ability to generate hormones or disrupts 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 the way your body responds to it. People respond differently to the same treatment, so not everyone gets the same side effects. Some side effects also differ if you are a man or a woman.
Some common side effects for males that receive hormone therapy for prostate cancer consist of:
- Hot flashes
- Loss of interest in or ability to have sex
- Weakened bones
- Enlarged and tender breasts
Some common side effects for women that receive hormone therapy for breast cancer consist of:
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness
- Changes in your periods if you have not yet reached menopause
- Loss of interest in sex
- Mood changes
How Much Hormone Therapy Costs
The cost of hormone therapy depends on:
- The types of hormone therapy you receive
- How long and how frequently you receive hormone therapy
- The part of the country where you live
Talk with your health insurance provider regarding what services it will cover. Most insurance plans pay for hormone therapy for their participants. For more information, go to the National Cancer Institute database, Organizations that Offer Support Services and search "financial assistance." Or call toll-free 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) to seek help.
What to Anticipate When Receiving Hormone Therapy
How Hormone Therapy Is Provided
Hormone therapy may be given in several ways. Some common methods include:
- Oral-- Hormone therapy is available in pills that you swallow.
- Injection-- The hormone therapy is administered by a shot in a muscle in your arm, thigh, or hip, or right under the skin in the fatty part of your arm, leg, or stomach.
- Surgery-- You may have surgery to remove organs that generate hormones. In women, the ovaries are removed. In males, the testicles are removed.
Where You Receive Hormone Therapy
Where you get treatment depends on which hormone therapy you are receiving and how it is provided. You may take hormone therapy in your home. Or, you might take hormone therapy in a doctor's office, clinic, or hospital.
How Hormone Therapy Can Affect You
Hormone therapy affects individuals in various ways. How you feel depends on the kind of cancer you have, how advanced it is, the type of hormone therapy you are receiving, as well as the dose. Your physicians and nurses can not know for certain exactly how you will feel throughout hormone therapy.
How to Tell If Hormone Therapy Is Working
If you are taking hormone therapy for prostate cancer, you will have routine PSA tests. If hormone therapy is working, your PSA levels will remain the same or might even go down. However, if your PSA levels increase, this might be a sign that the therapy is no longer working. If this occurs, your doctor will go over treatment alternatives with you.
If you are taking hormone therapy for breast cancer, you will have regular checkups. Checkups usually include an exam of the neck, underarm, chest, and breast areas. You will get regular mammograms, though you most likely will not require a mammogram of a reconstructed breast. Your physician might also order other imaging procedures or lab tests.
Special Diet Requirements
Hormone therapy for prostate cancer may result in weight gain. Talk with your doctor, nurse, or dietitian if weight gain becomes an issue for you.
Working During Hormone Therapy
Hormone therapy should not interfere with your ability to work.