Prostate cancer is common cancer in men, with over 248,000 new cases diagnosed in the United States each year. Hormone therapy for men is one of the primary treatments for prostate cancer. And, it can be used in several different ways depending on the patient’s stage of cancer and other factors.
In this blog, we will discuss hormone therapy for this cancer. It includes what it is, how it works, and the potential benefits and risks.
What is Hormone Therapy for Prostate Cancer?
Hormone therapy, also known as androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), is a treatment for prostate cancer. It involves lowering the levels of male hormones (androgens) in the body. Androgens, such as testosterone, play a role in the growth and spread of prostate cancer cells. By reducing the levels of these hormones, hormone therapy can slow or stop the growth of cancer cells.
There are two main types of hormone therapy for prostate cancer:
- Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) agonists: These medications lower the levels of testosterone by blocking the signals from the brain that stimulate the testicles to produce testosterone. Examples of LHRH agonists include leuprolide (Lupron), goserelin (Zoladex), and triptorelin (Trelstar).
- Anti-androgens: These medications block the effects of androgens on prostate cancer cells. Examples of anti-androgens include bicalutamide (Casodex), enzalutamide (Xtandi), and flutamide (Eulexin).
Hormone therapy may be given alone or in combination with other treatments, such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy. The decision to use hormone therapy, and which type of hormone therapy to use, depends on several factors. It includes the stage of cancer, the patient’s age and overall health, and the presence of other medical conditions.
How Does Hormone Therapy Work?
As mentioned, hormone therapy works by lowering the levels of male hormones in the body, particularly testosterone. Prostate cancer cells require androgens to grow and multiply. By reducing the levels of these hormones, hormone therapy can slow or stop the growth of cancer cells.
Different ways of giving Hormone therapy
Hormone therapy can be given in several different ways, including injections, oral medications, and implants. The frequency and duration of hormone therapy depend on the type of hormone therapy and the patient’s specific treatment plan.
Benefits of Hormone Therapy for Prostate Cancer
Hormone therapy can provide several health benefits for men with prostate cancer, including:
- Slowing the growth of cancer cells: By lowering the levels of male hormones, hormone therapy can slow or stop the growth of cancer cells.
- Shrinking tumors: Hormone therapy can shrink tumors, which can make them easier to treat with other therapies such as radiation therapy.
- Relieving symptoms: This cancer can cause several symptoms, such as pain, difficulty urinating, and erectile dysfunction. Hormone therapy can help relieve these symptoms and improve the patient’s quality of life.
- Delaying the need for other treatments: Hormone therapy can delay the need for other treatments, such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy, which can have their own side effects and risks.
Who is a good candidate for hormone therapy?
- A good candidate for hormone therapy for prostate cancer is typically a man who has been diagnosed with this cancer that has not spread beyond the prostate gland (localized or regional prostate cancer) or has spread to nearby tissues but not to distant organs (locally advanced prostate cancer). Hormone therapy is also used in men with advanced or metastatic prostate cancer, where cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
- Additionally, hormone therapy may be recommended for men who have a high risk of developing this cancer, such as those with a family history of the disease or those with certain genetic mutations.
- However, hormone therapy may not be appropriate for everyone. Men with certain medical conditions, such as liver or heart disease, may not be good candidates for hormone therapy. Additionally, men who are at high risk for developing osteoporosis or who have a history of blood clots may need to be monitored closely while on hormone therapy.
- Ultimately, the decision to use hormone therapy for this cancer depends on several factors, including the stage of cancer, the patient’s age and overall health, and the potential risks and benefits of the treatment. A patient should discuss their individual situation with their healthcare provider to determine if hormone therapy is an appropriate treatment option for them.
Hormone therapy for prostate cancer can be an effective treatment option for many men. However, it is important to discuss your options with a doctor before starting treatment. Because there are several potential risks and side effects associated with hormone therapy. If you are considering hormone therapy for prostate cancer, be sure to talk to your doctor about the benefits of each type of therapy available.