Prostate Cancer Hormone Therapy

Prostate Cancer Hormone Therapy is a treatment that blocks production or interferes locally where testosterone acts, delaying or interrupting prostate tumor growth. Read more.
Prostate Cancer Hormone Therapy

In prostate cancer, hormone therapy acts to prevent men’s testosterone (masculine hormone) either from being produced at all or from being delivered to cancerous cells. That’s because in most cases, abnormal cells depend on testosterone to multiply. Hormone therapy makes them either die or grow slower. 

Masculine hormone therapy is also known as androgenic deprivation therapy or hormone blocking. 

Its main recommendations are:

  • For advanced (metastatic) prostate cancer, to reduce size and growth of a tumor;
  • After prostate cancer treatment, when PSA (prostate specific antigen) levels remain high or rising; 
  • For locally advanced prostate cancer, as adjuvant of external radiotherapy, for higher efficacy and lower relapse risk; and
  • For high relapse risk cases, as a way to lower such risks. 

Types of hormone therapy for prostate cancer

There’s several ways to stop testosterone production in prostate cancer patients. The most important ones are:

  • LHRH agonists and antagonists – drugs used to stop the body’s testosterone production, a process known as chemical castration. They’re injected subcutaneously or intramuscularly once every one, three or six months. They might also be administered by a subcutaneous implant that releases the drug slowly over a long time frame;
  • Antiandrogenic therapy – antiandrogens prevent testosterone from being delivered to cancerous cells. These are oral drugs usually prescribed before or simultaneously to an LHRH agonist;
  • Other androgen blocking pharmaceuticals – when prostate cancer resists to treatment or comes back (relapses), other drugs such as corticosteroids can be used to block testosterone in the body; and 
  • Orchiectomy – surgical procedure for testicle removal, also known as surgical castration. 

Prostate cancer hormone therapy possible side effects and complications

Prostate cancer hormone therapy might trigger adverse reactions, varying on type and intensity among patients. The most commonly encountered ones are:

  • Hot flashes;
  • Decreased libido or sexual ability loss (erectile dysfunction);
  • Bone fragility;
  • Diarrhea;
  • Nausea;
  • Breast size and sensitivity increase;
  • Fatigue;
  • Weight gain;
  • Muscle mass loss;
  • Cholesterol increase;
  • Depression; and 
  • Decrease in mental agility.
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