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Is Hormone Therapy the Right Treatment for You?

Is Hormone Therapy the Right Treatment for You?

Hormones are chemicals that play an important role in regulating the body’s functioning and processes. Estrogen, testosterone, insulin, thyroid hormone, cortisol, and epinephrine are few known examples of hormones. But, what do these substances do in hormone therapy that could help treat cancer? How do you know if it’s a suitable cancer treatment for you? Find out here.

Hormone Therapy, Defined

Hormone therapy is a kind of cancer treatment that slows down the growth of cancer cells that needs hormones to develop. It can either treat cancer or reduce the symptoms a person experiences because of it. Doctors normally use this treatment for patients with breast cancer (for females) or prostate cancer (for males).

The majority of hormone therapies are given either to lessen estrogen levels or to restrict estrogen from acting on cancer cells in the breast.

Other names to it are hormone treatment or endocrine therapy.

How Hormone Therapy Works

Some tumors (or cancer cells) make use of the body’s hormones to foster and develop. This indicates that the malignancy can be hormone-sensitive or dependent on hormones.

Hormonal therapy medications are used to decrease or slow the progression of advanced-stage or metastatic hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. However, this does not work best for all other cancer types.

Below are a few of the hormone-sensitive types of cancer:

  • breast cancer
  • prostate cancer
  • ovarian cancer
  • womb cancer (otherwise called uterine or endometrial cancer)

The doctor may consider a different type of hormone therapy depending on what risk factors may affect the patient.

In some cases, hormone therapy combines with other treatments in order to:

  • Reduce the size of a tumor before undergoing surgery or radiation therapy. This is known as the neoadjuvant therapy.
  • Reduce the likelihood that cancer may recur following primary treatment. This is known as the adjuvant therapy.
  • Destroy the cancer cells that have returned or spread to other places of your body.

Mode of Administration

There are different ways how hormone therapy is given to a patient. It can be through oral pill medications, injectables, or even through surgical procedures in order to remove the organs that produce the particular hormones.

Common Side Effects of Hormone Therapy

Like any other treatment, hormone therapy can also cause a variety of unwanted side effects because of its ability to decrease the body’s ability to manufacture hormones. Others may be also due to how their hormones behave or interact with one another after the said treatment.

Because several people may react to the same treatment in different ways, not everyone has the same side effects. But, some of the known side effects for men who receive the treatment for prostate cancer include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Weakened bones
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of sex drive (or the interest/ability to have sex)
  • Fatigue

Women can also experience different side effects from hormone therapy such as but not limited to:

  • Hot flashes
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Changes with the menstrual period (if not yet menopause)
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Nausea
  • Mood changes
  • Fatigue

It is typical for women to receive hormone therapy and experience these side effects as they may often be due to breast cancer or menopausal changes.

Those who take hormone drugs may experience:

  • Joint pains and muscle stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Feeling sick
  • Effects on the bones
  • Tiredness or fatigue

Key Takeaways

Hormone therapy is one of the most common treatments for cancer patients, alongside radiation therapy and stem cell therapy.

Before considering it as an option, talk to your oncologist and take into account the type of cancer and its severity, the type of hormone therapy you are receiving, and the possible dose administration. These will all influence how your body would react to the treatment.

Learn more about cancer treatment options here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Hormone Therapy to Treat Cancer

https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/types/hormone-therapy

Accessed October 1, 2021

 

Hormone therapy: Is it right for you?

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/in-depth/hormone-therapy/art-20046372

Accessed October 1, 2021

 

Hormonal Therapy

https://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/hormonal

Accessed October 1, 2021

 

Hormone (endocrine) therapy

https://breastcancernow.org/information-support/facing-breast-cancer/going-through-treatment-breast-cancer/hormone-therapy

Accessed October 1, 2021

 

Hormone therapy for cancer

https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-in-general/treatment/hormone-therapy

Accessed October 1, 2021

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Written by Fiel Tugade Updated 3 weeks ago
Fact Checked by Bianchi Mendoza, R.N.