Hormone Therapy to Treat Cancer
Hormone therapy is a cancer treatment that slows down 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.
- Relieve cancer symptoms. Hormone therapy might be used to minimize or prevent symptoms in men with prostate cancer who are unable to have surgery or radiation therapy.
Types of Hormone Therapy
Hormone therapy falls into two broad categories, those that obstruct 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 that 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 kind 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
Since hormone therapy stops your body's ability to generate hormones or interferes with how hormones behave, it can trigger unwanted side effects. The side effects you have will depend on the type of hormone therapy you get and the way your body responds to it. Individuals react differently to the same treatment, so not everyone has the same side effects. Some side effects also vary 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
Some typical 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 Hormone Therapy Is Provided
Hormone therapy may be given in many ways. Some common ways include:
- Oral. Hormone therapy is available in pills that you swallow.
- Injection. The hormone therapy is given 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 receive treatment depends on which hormone therapy you are receiving and how it is given. You might take hormone therapy in your home. Or, you might take hormone therapy in a doctor's office, clinic, or hospital.
How Hormone Therapy May Affect You
Hormone therapy affects individuals 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, as well as the dosage. Your doctors and nurses can not know for sure 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 may even decrease. However, if your PSA levels increase, this may be an indicator that the treatment is no longer working. If this happens, your doctor will discuss treatment alternatives with you.
If you are taking hormone therapy for breast cancer, you will have regular checkups. Checkups typically include an examination of the neck, underarm, chest, and breast areas. You will get routine mammograms, though you most likely will not need a mammogram of a reconstructed breast. Your physician might also order other imaging procedures or lab tests.
For more information about Dr. Linette's practice and Hormone Therapy in San Diego, California, contact us at 760-875-2627 or visit our website at LinetteWilliamson.com and schedule your appointment today!