Cancer develops due to uncontrolled division of body cells which results in the formation of abnormal or immature cells that cannot perform their normal function and can invade other cells or tissues of the body.
Different techniques are used for the treatment of cancer. Hormone or hormonal therapy is also known as endocrine therapy and is one of the techniques used as cancer treatment.
In hormone therapy, different types of medications are used to lower or block certain hormones inside the body in order to stall the cancerous cells from growing.
Hormones are chemical messengers secreted by different glands in our body to control cellular activities. For example, insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps in lowering blood glucose levels.
Different types of hormones are produced and stored in different glands and organs depending upon their function.
Hormone therapy and cancer treatment:
Hormone therapy works by reducing the levels of certain hormones. Different tests are carried out to see if the cancer is sensitive to the hormones.
Some cancers depend on hormones for their growth. This cancer treatment option is especially used to treat certain types of cancers, such as prostate and breast cancers.
Recent studies have shown that synthetic hormones, such as dexamethasone, can also be used for Mesothelioma Treatment—mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer caused due to asbestos exposure.
As hormones course through our blood and runs the entirety of the circulatory system, hormone therapy treatment is also called systemic treatment.
On the other hand, drugs used in cancer treatments to identify and target specific hormones are called local treatments because they affect only one specific part of the body.
Hormone therapy is used along with other types of cancer treatments, such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery.
Hormone therapy can be used alone if a person doesn’t have access to other treatment options due to health risks. Hormone therapy can be used in various ways:
- Before considering radiation therapy or surgery, hormone therapy is used to shrink tumors. This is known as neo-adjuvant therapy.
- Cancer recurs after treatment. Hormone therapy is effective at reducing the risk of that happening. This is called adjuvant therapy.
- Cancer can be localized or can spread to other parts of the body. Cancer that can spread to other parts of the body is called metastatic cancer. Hormone therapy is extremely effective at treating metastatic cancers.
The goal of hormone therapy depends upon the spread and type of the cancer. In some cases, hormone therapy is used to manage cancer symptoms.
Cancer and its treatments can cause different types of physical and emotional side effects.
Treatment of such types of side effects is called palliative care or supportive care. Hormone therapy can play a role in relieving side effects during cancer care and treatment.
Hormone therapy for different types of cancer:
Hormone therapy can be used to treat different types of cancers:
- Breast Cancer: Breast cancer arises when normal breast cells divide rapidly to form an abnormal mass of cells in the breasts. Tumors that have receptors for binding with the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, are called hormone receptor-positive.
- Prostate Cancer: The prostate is a small-sized gland that forms a part of the male reproductive system. Prostate cancer begins when normal cells grow out of control and form a tumor. The prostate tumor can be benign or cancerous. The growth of the prostate in males is usually driven by androgen hormones. The most important androgen is testosterone. Lowering testosterone levels can help in prostate cancer treatment.
- Thyroid Cancer: The thyroid gland is located in the neck below the voice box, also called the larynx. The thyroid gland is a part of our endocrine system and regulates levels of different hormones within the body. Those patients with thyroid cancer who are treated with surgery require thyroid hormone therapy. It can slow down the growth of any other cancer cells growing inside the body.
Administration of hormone therapy:
Hormone therapy can be administered in the following ways:
Oral Hormone Therapy: In oral hormone therapy, different oral medications, in the form of pills, capsules, or liquids, are administered. You can get hormonal medications from a pharmacy after providing a doctor’s prescription.
Injected Hormone Therapy: Injectable hormone therapy includes the administration of hormones in the form of an injectable shot under the skin or muscles. You may get these shots in your leg, arm, belly, or hip. You canyou’re your shot from any clinic.
Surgery: During surgery, certain parts of an organ are removed that are responsible for secreting the hormones. In breast cancer treatment, ovaries are removed to stop the production of the estrogen hormone. This is called ovarian ablation. Another example is bilateral orchiectomy in which testes are removed to stop the production of testosterone as part of prostate cancer treatment.
Side effects of hormone therapy:
Hormonal disruptions, either naturally or because of treatment, can lead to side effects. Side effects of hormone therapy manifest differently for every patient.
Side effects usually depend on which type of therapy is used and how the body responds to it.
Common side effects of hormone therapy are listed below:
- Diarrhea, nausea, and fatigue
- Enlarged breasts accompanied with pain, in case of breast cancer
- Mood swings
- Menstrual changes
- Erectile dysfunction and decreased sex drive
- Blood clots, brittle bones, and increased chances of cardiovascular diseases
Hormone therapy side effects can last for a short period or until the end of your treatment, and, in some cases, these side effects can linger even after the treatment.
Hormone therapy, administered in combination with other treatment options, help to treat cancer. The duration of the treatment can vary from months to years depending upon the cancer type. Eating a healthy and a balanced diet with enough rest to boot can help you manage the side effects and make hormone therapy effective.
Barry Lachey is a Professional Editor at Zobuz. Previously He has also worked for Moxly Sports and Network Resources “Joe Joe.” he is a graduate of the Kings College at the University of Thames Valley London. You can reach Barry via email or by phone.