Chemicals called hormones are produced in glands in the reproductive system, in the ovaries for women and the testicles for men. Cancers most commonly treated with hormone therapy are breast and prostate cancer. Hormone therapy is a systemic therapy and uses medication to block the production of hormones such as estrogen and testosterone. Hormone therapy is commonly combined with surgery and/or radiation therapy. Hormone therapy can help reduce the size of tumors before surgery and the spread of cancer after surgery.
How Hormone Therapy Works
A hormone receptor test can be performed to help determine if cancer cells are sensitive to hormones, and if hormones in the body are helping cancer cells to grow. If the test is positive, then various types of hormone therapies may be used in treatment. Hormone therapy treatment can be used to prevent cancer cells from receiving hormones that are helping them grow. It can also be used to treat glands by blocking them from producing hormones—this may include removing a hormone-producing gland. The type of treatment used is based on many individual factors such as the size of the tumor and the patient’s age.
What to Expect
There are some possible side effects from hormone therapy. The effects vary by the type of therapy and each person’s responses. Check with your physician about the possible side effects from hormone therapy.
Benefits of Hormone Therapy
Hormone therapy can to help reduce the risk of cancer recurrence after surgery. It can also help reduce the size of a tumor and reduce the speed of cancer cell growth.