Produced mainly in the testicles, male hormones such as testosterone cause prostate cancer cells to grow. Reducing hormone levels or blocking the cancer cells from using them can sometimes make the prostate cancer shrink or slow its growth.
The goal of hormone therapy is to lower the level of male hormones in the body or to stop the prostate cancer cells from using them. Hormone therapy does not cure the cancer and is often used to treat men whose cancer has spread or recurred after treatment.
There are several types of hormone therapy, including the following:
As each man's individual medical profile and diagnosis is different, so is his reaction to treatment. Side effects may be severe, mild, or absent depending on many factors, including the type of hormone therapy used. Be sure to discuss with your cancer care team any or all possible side effects of treatment before the treatment begins.
Possible side effects of hormone therapy for prostate cancer may include:
The duration of hormone therapy varies, depending on the individual situation and why it is being used. For men with locally advanced prostate cancer (cancer that has spread just outside the gland), long-term hormone therapy (at least two years) may control the disease better than short-term hormone therapy. For more advanced prostate cancer, hormone therapy may be used for as long as it continues to be effective. To help limit side effects, some doctors may prefer to give men a break from continuous treatment at times as long as the PSA level remains low. This is known as intermittent hormone therapy. Treatment is then started again if the PSA starts to rise or symptoms occur. Always talk with your doctor for more information on hormone therapy treatment.
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