Hormone Therapy - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Hormone Therapy

Hormone therapy keeps prostate cancer cells from getting the male hormones (androgens) they need to grow. The testicles are the body's main source of the male hormone testosterone. The adrenal gland makes a small amount of testosterone.

Hormone treatment uses drugs or surgery:

  • Drugs: Your doctor may suggest a drug that can block natural hormones.
  • Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LH-RH) agonists: These drugs can prevent the testicles from making testosterone. Examples are leuprolide and goserelin.
  • Antiandrogens: These drugs can block the action of male hormones. Examples are flutamide, bicalutamide, and nilutamide.
  • Other drugs: Some drugs can prevent the adrenal gland from making testosterone. Examples are ketoconazole and aminoglutethimide.
  • Surgery: Surgery to remove the testicles is called orchiectomy.
  • After orchiectomy or treatment with an LH-RH agonist, your body no longer gets testosterone from the testicles. However, the adrenal gland still produces a small amount of male hormones. You may receive an antiandrogen to block the action of the male hormones that remain. This combination of treatments is known as total androgen blockade. Studies have not shown whether total androgen blockade is more effective than surgery or an LH-RH agonist alone.

Doctors can usually control prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body with hormone therapy. The cancer often does not grow for several years. But in time, most prostate cancers can grow with very little or no male hormones. Hormone therapy is no longer helpful. At that time, your doctor may suggest other forms of treatment that are under study.

Hormone therapy is likely to affect your quality of life. It often causes side effects such as impotence, hot flashes, loss of sexual desire, and weaker bones. An LH-RH agonist may make your symptoms worse for a short time when you first take it. This temporary problem is called "flare." The treatment gradually causes your testosterone level to fall. Without testosterone, tumor growth slows. Your condition may improve. (To prevent flare, your doctor may give you an antiandrogen for a while along with the LH-RH agonist.)

Antiandrogens (such as nilutamide) can cause nausea, diarrhea, or breast growth or tenderness. Rarely, they may cause liver problems (pain in the abdomen, yellow eyes, or dark urine). Some men who use nilutamide may have difficulty breathing. Some may have trouble adjusting to sudden changes in light.

If used for a long time, ketoconazole may cause liver problems, and aminoglutethimide can cause skin rashes. If you receive total androgen blockade, you may have more side effects than if you have just one type of hormone treatment.

Any treatment that lowers hormone levels can weaken your bones. Your doctor can suggest medicines or dietary supplements that can reduce your risk of bone fractures.

You may want to ask your doctor these questions before choosing hormone therapy:

  • What kind of hormone therapy will I have? Would you recommend drugs or surgery? Why?
  • When will treatment start? How often will I have treatments? When will it end?
  • Where will I go for treatment? Will I be able to drive home afterward?
  • If I have surgery, how long will I need to stay in the hospital?
  • How will I feel during treatment?
  • What can I do to take care of myself during treatment?
  • How will we know the treatment is working?
  • Which side effects should I tell you about?
  • Will there be lasting side effects?
  
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