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What Is Hormone Therapy Used For?

Reviewed on 1/12/2021

What Is Hormone Therapy?

Hormone therapy blocks the production of hormones or interferes with how they work. The aim is to disrupt the growth or shrink types of cancerous tumors that require or respond to hormones.
Hormone therapy blocks the production of hormones or interferes with how they work. The aim is to disrupt the growth or shrink types of cancerous tumors that require or respond to hormones.

Hormone therapy (also called hormonal therapy, hormone treatment, or endocrine therapy) is a type of cancer treatment used to slow or stop the growth of cancers that need hormones to grow. 

What Is Hormone Therapy Used For?

Hormone therapy is commonly used to treat some breast, prostate, and endometrial (uterine) cancers that use hormones to grow. 

Hormone therapy is used to:

  • Treat cancer by slowing its growth or lessening the chance it will return
  • Ease cancer symptoms in men with prostate cancer who are not able to have surgery or radiation therapy
  • Hormone therapy is often used with other cancer treatments to:
  • Shrink a tumor before surgery or radiation therapy (neo-adjuvant therapy)
  • Lower the risk that cancer will recur after the main treatment (adjuvant therapy) 
  • Kill cancer cells that have returned or spread (metastasized) to other parts of the body

What Are Types of Hormone Therapy?

There are two main groups of hormone therapy: 

  • Those that block the body’s ability to produce hormones
  • Those that interfere with how hormones behave in the body

What Are Side Effects of Hormone Therapy?

Side effects from hormone therapy depend on the type of hormone therapy and how a person responds to it. 

Common side effects of hormone therapy include:

Side effects can also differ between men and women.

Common side effects for men who receive hormone therapy for prostate cancer include:

  • Loss of ability to have sex
  • Weakened bones
  • Diarrhea
  • Enlarged and tender breasts

Common side effects for women who receive hormone therapy for breast cancer include:

  • Vaginal dryness
  • Changes in menstrual periods in women who have not yet reached menopause
  • Mood changes
  • Fatigue

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Reviewed on 1/12/2021
References
https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/types/hormone-therapy
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