What Is Hormone Therapy?

Health Monitor Staff
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The basics: Hormone therapy, also called androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), is often used in men with metastatic prostate cancer to slow or stop its progression. ADT blocks the body’s production of testosterone, the male hormone that triggers the growth of cancer cells. The goal of hormone therapy is to either shut down your body’s testosterone production or stop your tissues from using this hormone.

It might be right for you if:
Your cancer has metastasized (it’s already spread from your prostate to other parts of your body). ADT can take away pain, make tumors shrink and add years to your life.

How it’s given: Some testosterone-suppressing medications are taken as pills or implanted under the skin, but many are injected (anywhere from once monthly to once yearly, depending on the particular drug).

What you should know:
Hormone therapy has some significant side effects like hot flashes, loss of libido, loss of muscle mass and other symptoms. And long-term, it can raise your risk of bone thinning and heart disease. Fortunately, many of these side effects can be treated, so don’t try to tough it out—report any troubling symptoms to your healthcare provider promptly.

What to know about ADT and bone loss:
Hormone treatment to lower your testosterone and stop the spread of prostate cancer can also cause bone loss. When bones weaken, you’re more likely to experience a fracture, or bone break. Not only can that result in long-term pain and disability, it can also disrupt your cancer treatment. Ask your doctor what steps you can take to protect your bones.

May 2013