How to Prepare for Your Hormone Therapy
Hormone treatment affects the level of hormones such as testosterone and estrogen in your body. Depending on the type of medication you’re on, side effects can vary, so it’s important to talk with your healthcare provider about how to get ready for your specific type of hormone therapy. Take the following basic steps to get the most effective results from your hormone treatment.
- Let your doctor know the medications or supplements you currently take. Find out what you need to stop taking—and when—during hormone treatment.
- Ask about which drug options are available for your situation (e.g. longer duration injections, pills, different types of injections or pills). In some cases surgery could be considered to reduce testosterone, and rarely it can be used to reduce estrogen levels.
- Ask about lifestyle changes—including diet and exercise—you can make to limit side effects like fatigue, high blood sugar, and loss of muscle and bone.
- Find out if you’ll need more frequent tests while on therapy, such as a CBC and tests for lipid levels and blood sugar, and who will prescribe them.
- Ask about which side effects to report immediately, and those you should talk about at your next appointment.
- Ask about the changes in libido and potency you’re likely to experience—and what you can do about them.
- Ask about any signs that could indicate a health concern that needs to be investigated.
- Find out how you can stay on top of any other health conditions during hormone treatment. For example, if you have hypertension (high blood pressure), it may be a good idea to buy a home blood pressure cuff so you can monitor your blood pressure regularly.
- Ask about screening exams you might need to monitor your bone health (e.g., bone density tests that can show whether the cancer has spread to your bones, or if your treatment is working) and how often you will need them.
- Ask if there are medications that make sense for you. Treatments are available that can prevent or treat hot flashes, high cholesterol, bone thinning and fatigue.
- Ask about the benefits of intermittent (on again, off again) hormone treatment.
- Ask what your options are if your cancer continues to grow despite hormone therapy.