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How Hormone Therapy Works to Combat Cancer

If you hear the term “hormone therapy” and automatically think of “hormone replacement therapy,” you’re not alone. But the similar-sounding terms have very different applications. Hormone replacement therapy treats the symptoms of menopause by restoring the estrogen in the menopausal women. 

Ironically, hormone replacement therapy can actually increase a woman’s risk for breast cancer. Hormone therapy, on the other hand, doesn’t replace hormones, it blocks them. 

Our experienced cancer team here at Choice Cancer Care often incorporates hormone therapy into our patients’ treatment plans for certain types of breast cancer and prostate cancer. Here’s how it works.

Types of cancer that benefit from hormone therapy

There are over 100 types of known cancers, and they can attack any organ or tissue, including blood. Some seemingly singular cancers — such as breast and prostate — are actually umbrella terms that encompass several specific types of cancer that affect that particular body part. 

Some types of breast and prostate cancers rely on certain hormones to grow — and these are the types that respond well to hormone therapy.

Why some cancers thrive on hormones

If you were to view your breast or prostate cancer cells under a microscope, you might see proteins on the surface called hormone receptors. They grab the hormones estrogen or progesterone (in women) or testosterone (in men) out of your bloodstream and use them to fuel their growth.

Not all cancers are hormone-receptor positive, but those that are may benefit from hormone therapy. We can test your cancerous cells using a lab method called immunohistochemistry to determine if they’re hormone-receptor positive, and if so, which hormones they depend on to grow.

How hormone therapy works

Hormone therapy can fight your hormone-receptor positive cancer on several fronts. Depending on the characteristics of your cancer, we customize your hormone therapy to address specific conditions. 

Your hormone therapy may:

Whichever method is used, the results are significant. Hormone therapy can:

Hormone therapy is an effective tool, but isn’t typically used alone. Whether your treatment plan includes chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, or a combination of methods, hormone therapy complements the effects, making tumors easier to remove. Hormone therapy can also make it more difficult for the cancer to recur. 

Types of hormone therapy

Hormone therapy comes in various forms, including pills, liquids, and injections. Your exact prescription and delivery method depend on your specific case. If you’re a woman and have breast cancer, you may need:

Our team takes into consideration all your symptoms and diagnostic tests, as well as the phase of the cancer and your stage of life. Some medications are specifically formulated for use during childbearing or postmenopausal years.

 If you’re a man fighting hormone-receptor positive prostate cancer, you may benefit from:

Again, the specific type of cancer and its stage dictate the best hormone therapy. 

To find out more about hormone therapy and whether you’re a good candidate for this effective cancer-fighting treatment, schedule an appointment at any of our five offices in Texas, including Plano, Lewisville, Irving, Southlake, and Decatur. Request a consultation online or call us at 214-379-2700 today.

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