Hormone treatment for Prostate cancer
Men with advanced prostate cancer usually receive hormone therapy. In addition, a man with early-stage prostate cancer may have hormone therapy before, during, and after radiation therapy. Hormone therapy may also be used after surgery. Hormone therapy interrupts prostate cells from responding to male hormones (androgens such as testosterone). Male sex hormones can cause prostate cancers to grow.
Types of hormone therapy include:
- A drug that can prevent the testicles from making testosterone (LH-RH agonist)
- A drug that can block the action of male hormones (anti-androgen)
- Surgery to remove the testicles, which are the body’s main source of testosterone
- A drug that can prevent the adrenal glands from making testosterone
Your doctor can help you decide which type of hormone therapy or which combination is best for you.
The side effects of hormone therapy depend on the type used. The most common side effects are erectile dysfunction, hot flushes, and loss of sexual desire. Other possible side effects include breast growth, an increase in body fat around the waist, and an increase in sugar level in your blood. Also, hormone therapy can weaken your bones. Your doctor can suggest medicines that may reduce your risk of breaking a bone.
An LH-RH agonist may make pain and other symptoms worse at first. This temporary problem is called a flare. To prevent a flare, your doctor may give you an anti-androgen before receiving the LH-RH agonist.
Although the side effects of hormone therapy may be upsetting, your health care team can suggest ways to manage them.
Chemotherapy may be used for men with advanced prostate cancer. Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. The drugs for prostate cancer are usually given directly into a vein (intravenously). You may receive chemotherapy in a clinic, at the doctor’s office, or at home. Men rarely need to stay in the hospital during treatment.
The side effects depend mainly on which drugs are given and how much. Chemotherapy kills fast-growing cancer cells, but the drugs can also harm normal cells that divide rapidly.