Hormone therapy

Hormone therapy is a treatment for types of cancer that arise because of hormones present in the body. The therapy blocks the production of, or interferes with, where the hormones act, slowing or stopping the growth of tumors. Know more.
Hormone therapy

Hormone therapy is a treatment used in oncology to slow or stop the growth of types of cancer that receive the stimulus of hormones present in the patient’s body to develop and proliferate. It is also called hormone therapy or endocrine therapy.

Types of hormone therapy

Hormone therapy is divided into two broad groups:

  • Hormone therapy that blocks the body’s ability to produce more hormones; and
  • Hormone therapy that interferes with where hormones act in the body.

And it can be done in several ways:

Medication orally: it is done through the ingestion of pills;

Injectable drug: the drug is administered via subcutaneous or intramuscular injection (which can be done in the arm, thigh, hip or just under the skin, in the fat layer of the arm, leg or belly);

Non-drug surgical or surgical castration: the patient undergoes surgery to remove the organ that produces hormones, such as the ovaries (oophorectomy) or testicles (orchiectomy); and

Ablation by radiotherapy (non-drug): application of a dose of radiation to the ovaries so that they lose their function of producing hormones.

Oral treatment can be done at home. The other types require going to the specialized clinic or hospital.


Breast and prostate cancer, which need hormones to grow, can be treated with hormone therapy. It can be done in association with other medications that enhance its action.

Its main objectives are:

  • Reducing the size of the tumor before surgery or radiotherapy (neoadjuvant treatment);
  • Decrease the risk of relapses, that is, that the cancer returns after the end of the main treatment (adjuvant treatment); and
  • Serve as a palliative treatment to destroy cancer cells that have grown back (recurred) or spread to other parts of the body (metastasis).
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