Hormone therapy is mostly linked with men taking testosterone or women using estrogen during menopause. But hormone therapy for cancer is an altogether different concept.
It is also called endocrine therapy and is used to change the hormones in your body so as to halt the progress of cancer or cure it. It is applied to treat only hormone-responsive cancers and is used together with other main cancer treatments.
Hormone therapy is used to decrease some particular hormones in your body or else change the ability of the tumor to use these hormones to increase and spread. By modifying the hormone supply the tumors shrink. Hormone therapy is generally used for breast, prostrate, and ovarian cancers.
A doctor can determine if you will benefit from hormone therapy for your cancer by performing a biopsy.
He may then decide to start your treatment with hormone therapy so as to reduce the size of the tumor to a more controllable one and then put you onto the main cancer treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation.
Contrarily, you may have the prime treatment such as surgery and then be put on hormone therapy to ensure that the cancer doesn’t recur. In some cases if the cancer is very advanced, hormone therapy can be the chief treatment.
Researchers are also studying the effects of hormone therapy on people who are at a health risk for cancer as a method of prevention rather than cure.
The main idea of hormone therapy is to suppress the level of hormones in your body.
So surgery is an option where the parts of your body that produce hormones, such as the ovaries and adrenal gland, are removed. Radiation is another option that works in a similar fashion.
Both these can permanently affect your body. The alternative to these is to use drugs to reduce the hormone levels or interfere with the cancer’s ability to use the hormones to spread; this is a more natural choice for patients.
The kind of hormone treatment your physician may recommend will depend on the kind of cancer you have, the size of the tumor, how old you are, and the result of the biopsy.
You must also be aware of the side effects of hormone therapy. For men it may mean incontinence and a loss of libido; and for women it could be fatigue and mood swings, as well as an increase in weight; both men and women can have osteoporosis.
If your doctor suggests hormone therapy as treatment for your cancer and you decide to go with that decision then be aware of the side effects and also that the effects itself may not last long.
Over time, a hormone-receptive cancer can advance far enough to be able to withstand hormone remedy. Think of the advantages and risks and weigh all aspects before choosing the treatment that will benefit you the most.