Hormone therapy blocks the effects of hormones that stimulate the growth of certain cancers. It deprives cancer cells of what they need to grow. Hormone therapy is a common treatment for certain breast cancers, prostate cancers, and thyroid cancers.
Hormone therapy usually involves taking medicines. Sometimes, oncologists recommend removing all or part of the organ responsible for making the hormone.
Consult with an oncologist at Dignity Health to learn more about the best options for treating cancer with hormone therapy in Arizona. Find a Doctor or call (877) 914-1670 to get started. We’ll walk with you throughout the diagnosis, treatment, and recovery stages, providing comprehensive care at every turn.
Reasons for Prescribing Hormone Therapy
Your doctor at Dignity Health may use hormone therapy to treat:
- Breast cancer: Two out of three breast cancers are hormone receptor-positive for estrogen or progesterone. Hormone therapy for these cancers either lowers the amount of hormones in the body or stops the hormones from attaching to the receptor and stimulating growth. Ovarian ablation with surgery or drugs is another form of hormone therapy for this type of breast cancer.
- Prostate cancer: Male hormones called androgens are necessary for prostate cancer to grow. Hormone therapy for prostate cancer can reduce androgen production in the testicles, block the effect of androgen in the body, or block androgen production throughout the body.
- Thyroid cancer: Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is normally made by the thyroid gland. It also promotes the growth of thyroid cancer cells. Taking higher-than-normal doses of thyroid hormone can keep TSH levels very low. This decreases the risk of thyroid cancer returning. Removing part or all of the thyroid gland is another form of hormone therapy. In this case, you may need to take replacement thyroid hormone to stay healthy.
Risks & Complications
Side effects are likely with hormone therapy because it changes the natural balance of hormones:
- Breast cancer: The main side effect of blocking estrogen and progesterone are menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness.
- Prostate cancer: Menopausal-type symptoms, such as hot flashes, can also occur in men when medicines block androgen hormones. Possible side effects also include erectile dysfunction, reduced sex drive, weight gain, and loss of muscle mass or strength.
- Thyroid cancer: Taking higher-than-normal doses of thyroid hormone for a long period of time can cause heart problems and weakened bones. Taking high doses for a short amount of time does not seem to cause problems.
Ask your care team at Dignity Health about the specific risks and complications of your hormone therapy.
What to Expect with Hormone Therapy Treatment at Dignity Health
Temporary hormone therapy with medicines can last a long time. Some of these medicines are necessary for years in order to reach their maximum effectiveness at treating cancer. Hormone therapy with surgery is generally permanent.
For the best possible cancer treatment for your cancer diagnosis and symptoms, rely on the experienced oncology team at Dignity Health. Dignity Health provides expert care and treatment for patients through hormone therapy in Arizona.