The male hormones are called androgens. You could say that a man needs these hormones to be a male. However, if a man suffers from prostate cancer, these male hormones also make the cancer grow faster. There are two kinds of androgens: testosterone and dihydrotestosterone. The testicles make most of the hormones. Some are made by the adrenal glands on top of you kidneys.
What is hormone therapy for prostate cancer?
Hormone therapy for prostate cancer makes the androgen levels lower in a man, or stops them altogether. This keeps the androgens from making prostate cancer worse. The cancer may even become less. This is why treatment is very helpful when the illness is still in a very early stage.
Your doctor may also offer hormone therapy if the cancer has come back after you had surgery of radiation therapy. In some cases the doctor will give hormone therapy together with radiation therapy.
Hormone therapy could even make prostate cancer shrink
This is why it’s sometimes used before radiation treatment. That way you have a better chance at beating the cancer with radiation treatment.
When the cancer has already gone too far, hormone therapy may be the only option left. This means that the cancer has spread and it is too late for surgery or radiation. Unfortunately, when it has gone this far, hormone therapy alone is not enough to beat the cancer.
How does the hormone treatment work?
Basically this therapy works in two ways:
- it makes the androgen levels lower
- it makes the androgens stop working
There are injections and implants to stop your testicles from making testosterone. To make the androgens stop working, the doctor will give medication. In some cases, it may be necessary to remove a part of the testicles or remove them completely.
Hormone therapy may not sound very pleasant, but it may help a lot with the treatment and symptoms of prostate cancer.
On the other hand, it may have side effects like gaining weight, becoming less strong and not wanting to have sex anymore. Also, you may have hot flushes and feel very tired. In case the therapy goes on for a long time your bones may become weaker.
If you need hormone therapy, it is very important to talk with your doctor about how it will work and what may be the possible side effects. Your doctor will also tell you what can be done about the possible side effects.
Knowing what will happen is going to help you better deal with the side effects of hormone therapy while fighting prostate cancer.