What is hormone therapy for prostate cancer?

What is hormone therapy for prostate cancer?

How is prostate cancer treated?

Treatment for prostate cancer depends on a few factors, including the stage and grade of the cancer, as well as your overall health, age and your own preferences.1 You can find a short summary of the different types of treatments for prostate cancer here.

One type of prostate cancer treatment is known as hormone therapy or androgen deprivation therapy (ADT).2

What is hormone therapy and how does it work?

Testosterone is a male sex hormone (known as an androgen) that promotes the development of male sex characteristics like facial hair or a deep voice.1 Testosterone is also important for the healthy functioning of the prostate.However, testosterone can also play a role in helping prostate cancer cells grow and spread.1,2  Hormone therapy is used to reduce the amount of testosterone your body makes, with the aim of slowing the cancer’s growth or to temporarily shrink the cancer’s size.1 The rate at which hormone therapy slows your cancer’s growth or how much it reduces the size of the prostate cancer varies from person-to-person.2


Who can have hormone therapy?

Hormone therapy is used to treat both early-stage and advanced prostate cancer. Advanced prostate cancer is cancer that has spread outside of the prostate to nearby tissues or organs, or cancer that has spread to more distant parts of the body.You can find out more about the staging and grading of prostate cancer here.

Are there different types of hormone therapy?

Hormone therapy can be given as injections, oral tablets or sometimes surgery, though surgery is not a common treatment used to lower testosterone levels. Injections or tablets are usually the recommended and preferred medications to block the body’s production of testosterone.1,2


What about the side effects of hormone therapy?

Reducing testosterone levels in the body can cause side effects. These side effects may include:1

  • Fatigue
  • Low libido (reduced sex drive)
  • Erection problems
  • Shrinking of the penis and testicles
  • Loss of muscle strength
  • Sweating and hot flushes
  • Weight gain
  • Breast swelling/tenderness
  • Mood swings or depression
  • Trouble with thinking/poor memory
  • Loss of bone density
  • Increased risk of diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease

Your doctor will discuss the side effects you may experience with hormone therapy before starting treatment. It is important that you speak to your doctor or a member of your prostate cancer team about any side effects you are worried about, or that you experience. They will be able to help guide you on how to manage your symptoms.


What about clinical trials?

You may have heard or read about clinical trials used to treat different types of cancers. Clinical trials are research studies conducted to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of new medical treatments, interventions, or approaches. Clinical trials are governed by a strict set of rules to ensure they are conducted in an ethical manner. These rules are international, so they apply to all clinical trials occurring all over the world.3,4

Your doctor may recommend you enrol in a clinical trial if you are eligible, which may benefit your treatment for prostate cancer. It is important to share any thoughts you have about a clinical trial with your doctor before enrolling – they are best placed to answer any questions you may have.

More information

Find out more about prostate cancer today!

This blog is provided for information purposes only. It is not a substitute for your own healthcare professional's advice. It should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Any medical procedure or treatment carries risks. Individual treatment outcomes and experiences will vary.

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