What you need to know about Hormone Therapy for Cancer
Hormone therapy (also known as hormonal therapy, hormone treatment, or endocrine therapy) is a cancer treatment that uses medicine to lower or block the number of hormones in the body to stop or slow the growth of cancer. The aim of the procedure is to treat cancer and ease cancer symptoms. The procedure is mainly used to treat breast cancer, ovarian cancer, womb cancer, and prostate cancer that use hormones to grow and is usually used along with other cancer treatments.
What Does the Procedure Involve?
Hormone therapy involves taking medication that prevents cancer cells from getting the hormones they need in order to grow, which may be given orally (in pills that you swallow) or injected into a muscle in your hip, thigh, arm, leg, or belly. Some frequently used hormone therapy drugs are abiraterone, anastrozole, exemestane, fulvestrant, letrozole, leuprolide, and tamoxifen. In some cases, your doctor may also remove the gland responsible for hormone production with surgery.
How Long Should You Stay in the Area?
Your length of stay depends on how many cycles are needed for your specific case. During your hormone therapy, you will need to meet your oncologist regularly for follow-up visits to see how your body is responding to the medications.
How Long is the Recovery Time?
You may be able to resume your normal activities and work the next day after you receive the hormone medications or when you do not feel any symptoms that interfere with your ability to perform your daily activities. If you undergo surgery to remove the gland responsible for hormone production, you may need to take 4 weeks off work and avoid any strenuous activities, such as intense exercise, for 6 to 8 weeks.
What Aftercare Should You Consider?
Your doctor will give you aftercare instructions, which involve diet, exercise, and restrictions. You will need to attend regular follow-up checkups after your hormone therapy is complete to discuss ways of reducing and treating side effects as well as to watch for cancer recurrence.
What is the Success Rate for Hormone Therapy for Cancer?
Hormone therapy has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence if performed along with other cancer treatments. It is also effective way to put cancer patients in remission, however, the treatment has some side effect and risks, such as hot flashes, fatigue, nausea, joint or muscle pain, blood clots, cataracts, stroke, heart disease, osteoporosis, erectile dysfunction (in men), as well as vaginal irritation, vaginal discharge, and vaginal dryness (in women).
Are there Alternatives to Hormone Therapy for Cancer?
Other cancer treatments, such as surgery, immunotherapy, targeted drug therapy, and chemotherapy can be your alternative options. Discuss with your doctor the best choice for your specific condition.
What Should You Expect Before and After the Procedure?
Cancer can prevent you from enjoying life and cause painful symptoms, and it can be life-threatening. After successful hormone therapy, you should be able to enjoy the things you love, your symptoms are relieved, and your life may be prolonged. Many patients are put in remission after treatment, meaning no cancer cells are found in their bodies.
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