Hormone Therapy for Prostate Cancer
Given alone or in combination with other treatments, hormone therapy may alleviate prostate cancer symptoms and improve quality of life.
Most prostate cancer cells rely on male hormones called androgens to help them grow. Because of this, hormone therapy, also known as androgen suppression therapy or androgen deprivation therapy, often plays an important role in prostate cancer treatment.
Hormone therapy uses drugs or surgery to reduce the level of androgens — testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) — in the body, causing prostate cancer cells to shrink or to grow more slowly. For some types of prostate cancer, including those with a higher risk for recurrence, hormone therapy may be given alone or in combination with other prostate cancer treatments.
By shrinking your tumor, hormone therapy can relieve pain associated with prostate cancer, extending and improving your quality of life.
Types of hormone therapy for prostate cancer
Your team will walk you through the types of available prostate cancer hormone therapy treatments and clinical trials, so you get the most advanced therapy possible. Types of hormone therapy include:
- Medications that lower the amount of testosterone made by the testicles: Certain medications called luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) or gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists and antagonists prevent your body's cells from receiving messages to make testosterone. As a result, your testicles stop producing testosterone. Blocking testosterone slows the rate of growth of the cancer.
- Medications that block testosterone from reaching cancer cells: Another class of oral drugs called anti-androgens work by preventing your body — and the cancer cells — from using testosterone. Anti-androgen usually is given in conjunction with LHRH agonists because LHRH agonists can cause a temporary increase in testosterone before testosterone levels decrease.
- Surgery to remove the testicles (orchiectomy): Removing your testicles reduces testosterone levels in your body quickly and significantly. But unlike medication options, surgery to remove the testicles is permanent and irreversible.
While hormone therapy may extend life, it is not a cure for prostate cancer. Your team will discuss with you the advantages and risks associated with hormone therapy as part of your prostate cancer treatment plan.