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Hormone Therapy for Cancer Treatment


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This post was most recently updated on May 17th, 2022

Dr. Sandeep Nayak, MACs Clinic, Bangalore.

Cancer is a disease dreaded by most. Cancer treatment has advanced in the past few decades and made the process of healing from cancer a reality. Hormone therapy is one such advancement offered at MACs Clinic in Bangalore by Dr. Sandeep Nayak – a Surgical Oncologist.

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Understanding Hormone therapy for cancer treatment.

Have you come across the news that you are suffering from breast, endometrial, or prostate cancer? Your oncologist, who has broken the news to you, will also begin to explain the plan of treatment based on the type and stage of cancer.

While traditional cancer treatments usually involve surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, science has now made it possible to treat specific cancers using specific treatments.

Your cancer falls in that category, and going for hormone therapy for treating cancer is a reality.

Our body generates different hormones for controlling how the pertaining body part cell behaves.

Sex hormones like estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone control our reproductive organ health and behavior.

Other hormones control other cell behaviors. Thyroid hormone, cortisol, adrenaline, and insulin are essential hormones that regulate cell and body metabolism.

Why are we talking about these hormones and their control of cells?

Here’s why.

Some cancer growths depend on hormones. So, controlling the hormones is a way to slow down or speed up cancer growth. These treatments are known as hormone therapy or endocrine therapy.

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Usually, this treatment is used to treat breast/endometrial/prostate cancer but can also treat other cancers.

Hormone therapy is systemic because the hormones targeted by the treatment are circulating in the body. The drugs used in hormone therapy target a specific hormone that is in circulation throughout the body, thereby targeting therapy throughout the body where the hormone is found.

What are the other therapies that are used for treating cancer?

Other treatments that help treat cancer are immunotherapy, targeted therapy, and bone marrow transplant.

Most people now have the knowledge that not all tumors are malignant. Some are contained in an area and are easy to treat, while others spread slowly at first and rapidly at a later stage.

Unfortunately for us, the first noticeable sign of cancer usually appears when it is in the stage where it is spreading like wildfire.

Course correction is often challenging, and the patient may or may not survive, says Dr. Sandeep Nayak, known to provide the best cancer treatment in Bangalore at MACs Clinic for cancer treatment and Fortis Hospital.

Both the places have world-class equipment for robotic surgeries that Dr. Nayak specializes in.

They are minimally invasive and help heal faster without an extended hospital stay, with less blood loss and no scars.

Our topic of interest today is learning about hormone therapy for cancer treatment.

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How does hormone therapy work for treating cancer?

In hormone therapy, a patient is injected with a drug that travels through the body looking for a specific hormone. Different types of hormone therapies have different results. These can:

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Stop hormone production.

Stop the hormone from attaching itself to a cancer cell

Change the hormone structure so that it works differently.

As a result, we can stop or slow down cancer growth or lessen the symptoms specific to certain cancer.

Know the different types of hormone therapies

Below, we will discuss a few hormone therapies for treating different types of cancers.

1. Breast Cancer:

  • Aromatase inhibitors e.g. exemestane, letrozole and anastrozole.
  • Selective estrogen receptor modulators, e.g., raloxifene and tamoxifen.
  • Estrogen receptor antagonist e.g. toremifene and fulvestrant.
  • Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone agonists, e.g., leuprolide, triptorelin, and goserelin.
  • And the last option is removing the ovaries, also known as oophorectomy.
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2. Prostate Cancer:

  • Anti-androgens, e.g. enzalutamide, bicalutamide and a few more.
  • CYP17 inhibitors like ketoconazole and abiraterone
  • Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone agonists and antagonists like goserelin, degarelix, triptorelin, and leuprolide.
  • And the last option is to remove the testes surgically.

3. Endometrial cancer:

  • Progestins, e.g., megestrol acetate or medroxyprogesterone acetate
  • Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone agonists and antagonists like goserelin and leuprolide.
  • Aromatase inhibitors e.g. exemestane, letrozole and anastrozole.
  • Selective estrogen receptor modulators, e.g., raloxifene and tamoxifen.

4. Adrenal cancer:

  • Estrogen receptor antagonist e.g. toremifene and fulvestrant.
  • Selective estrogen receptor modulators, e.g., raloxifene and tamoxifen
  • Adrenolytics, like Mitotane.

What are the different forms of administering hormone therapy?

Before we discuss the different forms of administering the therapy, there are some ground rules to follow when taking this therapy. Based on the type of cancer being treated and the type of drug being administered, your oncologist Dr. Sandeep Nayak will give you detailed instructions on how to take medicine.

Please adhere to instructions 100% without fail.

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Oral Pills: they have to be taken on time every time, without fail. You will have to set a reminder for it.

Injectable drugs:  

  1. Shots given in the arm/leg/hips are called intra-muscular injections.
  2. given just under the skin on the belly called subcutaneous injections.

You can administer them yourself after being trained by the doctor.

Removing the hormone-producing organs surgically: removing testicles to treat prostate cancer and eliminating ovaries to treat breast cancer are just some examples.

As a result, you may experience the following effects permanently if organ removal is used as hormone therapy. Otherwise, these are temporary side effects.

Men may experience the following:

  • Hot flashes
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Fatigue
  • Bone loss
  • Weight gain
  • Memory issues.
  • And other health problems too. 

Similarly, women may experience the following:

  • Hot Flashes
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Vaginal dryness, irritation, or discharge
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Bone loss
  • Increases the risk of other cancer, heart disease, stroke, cataracts, and blood clots.

In a rarity, some men too have breast cancer and experience similar side effects and erectile dysfunction if they follow this treatment.

Takeaway:

If you have cancer in today’s era, your chances of survival are very bright because of the numerous advances in cancer treatments. Some of them are combined to achieve the desired result when your cancer is in the late stage, and it’s a fight against time. Dr. Sandeep Nayak firmly believes and educates people to be proactive in health matters and go for screening tests annually at least to get ahead of the disease.

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