LH-RH Agonists/GnRH Agonists for Prostate Cancer
How It Works
Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LH-RH) agonists and gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists are hormone therapy drugs that lower the production of testosterone in a man's body. This drop in testosterone usually slows or stops the growth of prostate cancer for a period of time.
These drugs work by causing the pituitary gland to release the hormones that cause the testicles and adrenal glands to make testosterone. The pituitary gland then runs out of its hormones, and testosterone production drops.
These drugs are usually given by injection. They may be given once a month, once every 3 to 4 months, or once a year.
Why It Is Used
LH-RH and GnRH agonist therapy can also be used to relieve pain caused by metastatic prostate cancer.
How Well It Works
LH-RH agonist therapy improves a man's chances of living longer. When combined with radiation therapy or surgery to remove the prostate, LH-RH therapy may improve survival in men who have locally advanced cancer.
Treatment with LH-RH agonists may control severe pain caused by metastatic prostate cancer and may improve a man's quality of life. LH-RH agonists may be able to reduce bone fractures and spinal cord compression caused by metastatic disease if treatment is started as soon as cancer progression is evident.1
Side effects from LH-RH agonists and GnRH agonists may include:2
These drugs work on the pituitary gland to release its hormones. So the testicles may temporarily produce extra testosterone, causing a temporary growth in the tumor. This is called a tumor flare. Tumor flare may be accompanied by bone pain, urinary blockage, or other symptoms of rapid cancer growth. This may mean that the drug is working. And although the tumor may grow at first, it will shrink over time. Tumor flare can be prevented by taking a different hormone drug called an antiandrogen before or during treatment with the LH-RH agonist.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Hot flashes are a problem with hormone therapy. Hot flashes may last for years. Talk with your doctor about medicines and treatments that may help.
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