Hormone therapy

Hormone therapy is a type of cancer therapy that is used to treat cancers that rely on the body's hormones, such as breast and prostate cancers.

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How does hormone therapy work?

Hormone therapy can be used to either block the body's production of hormones or change the way the body responds to hormones.

How is hormone therapy given?

Hormone therapy can be given in a number of ways, including:

  • Orally, as tablets
  • As an injection, either intramuscularly or subcutaneously

Usually you are administered with hormone therapy as an outpatient. Sometimes a combination of treatments is used at the same time. If you are a patient of the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre, where and how often you receive treatment will depend on the type of hormone therapy prescribed and your cancer type.

Hormone therapy for breast cancer

Different types of hormone therapy are available for patients with breast cancer. The type of treatment is often selected on the basis of the menopausal status of a patient before commencing treatment. Your doctor will discuss this with you.

After a diagnosis of early breast cancer, traditionally hormone therapy has been recommended for five years however recent studies suggest that longer therapy of up to ten years may be superior to five years. Ongoing studies are currently underway to investigate which patients benefit from this extended duration of hormone therapy.

Hormone therapies have recently been evaluated in combination with new targeted therapies in patients with advanced breast cancer and have shown improved survival outcomes. Governmental approval for such combinations is awaited, however there are ongoing clinical trials investigating these combined approaches. We recommend you speak with your oncologist about your treatment plan and whether a clinical trial may be appropriate and available for you.

Hormone therapy for prostate cancer

Men with prostate cancer typically receive hormone therapy when their cancer has spread outside the prostate gland. Most men receive treatment with an injection given every three to six months. Recently there have been new tablet hormonal therapies that allow better control of the prostate cancer.

Your doctor may recommend these medications for treatment of your cancer, or recommend participation in a clinical trial. We recommend a discussion with your doctor about the options for treatment, the effectiveness of the treatments, and the possible side effects.

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