Prostate cancer occurs in approximately one in nine men.
There are several treatment options, depending on factors, such as stage and your overall health. Hormone therapy is one of the options that you can learn more about to help to determine if it is an ideal option.
Why It is Done
For prostate cancer, this therapy is administered to stop testosterone production. Testosterone is a hormone that essentially fuels prostate cancer cell growth. By stopping production, this therapy may help to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
The following are the most common reasons to consider hormone therapy for prostate cancer:
- Your cancer is advanced
- PSA levels are high after undergoing cancer treatment
- You are at a high risk of recurrence
- It may increase the effectiveness of external beam radiation
Approaches to Hormone Therapy
There are three primary approaches to hormone therapy that your doctor may discuss with you:
- Take medications that block the testosterone hormone from getting to the cancer cells
- Take medications that stop your body from creating testosterone
- Have your testicles removed surgically
There are several medication types that can be considered:
- LHRH antagonists and agonists stop the creation of testosterone in your body. They are typically injected either into a muscle or under your skin at specific intervals. In some cases, your doctor may place an implant below your skin.
- Anti-androgen drugs stop testosterone from getting to the cancer cells. You take these drugs orally. You will typically take them before or with an LHRH agonist.
If your cancer recurs or persists despite treatment, there are other medications that your doctor might recommend. The following medications have a different mechanism of action, but they all target testosterone:
In most cases, your doctor will only consider these specific medications when other hormone therapy drugs are not producing any results.
What to Expect
As you undergo hormone therapy, you will meet with your doctor regularly. This allows them to track your progress and determine if your side effects are too much. There are ways to help to control many of the side effects. Your doctor may also perform tests to help monitor your response to the treatment.
There are possible side effects with this treatment, including:
- Muscle mass loss
- Sex drive loss
- Bone thinning
- Reduced body hair
- Breast tissue growth
- Increased body fat
- Erectile dysfunction
- Smaller genitalia
- Behavioral changes
- Metabolism problems
To help to reduce the side effects that you experience, your doctor may recommend intermittent dosing. You may do an off and on schedule or take it until your PSA levels get to a certain point and then take a break.
Hormone therapy may be administered alone or with other treatments for this cancer. You will meet with your oncologist to discuss the treatment regimen that is the best for you. Having this information about hormone therapy provides you with the details necessary to make an informed decision.