How Does Hormonal Therapy Treat Prostate Cancer?
Hormone therapy is an option for many men with Prostate Cancer, but it’s used in different ways depending on whether your cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
Hormone therapy is also known as Androgen Deprivation Therapy (ADT) or Androgen Suppression Therapy. The objective is to reduce the levels of male hormone called androgens in the body, or to stop them from affecting prostate cells.
Androgens are essential for normal growth and function of the prostate, a gland in the Male Reproductive System that helps make semen. Androgens stimulate prostate cancer cells to grow. The main Androgens in the body are Testosterone and Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Androgens help the growth of both normal and cancerous prostate cells by binding to and triggering the androgen receptor, a protein that is found in prostate cells. Once activated, the androgen receptor stimulates the expression of specific genes that cause prostate cells to grow.
Most prostate cancer cells will rely on testosterone to help them grow. Hormone therapy causes prostate cancer cells to expire or to grow more slowly. Hormone therapy for prostate cancer may entail medications or perhaps surgery to remove the testicles.
When is Hormone Therapy used?
Hormone therapy may be used:
- Along with radiation therapy as initial treatment if you are at higher risk of cancer coming back after treatment (based on a high Gleason score, PSA level, and/or growth of cancer outside the prostate)
- Before radiation to try to shrink the cancer to make the treatment more effective and safe
- If cancer has spread too far to be cured by surgery or radiation, or if you can’t have these treatments for some other reason
- If cancer remains or comes back after treatment with surgery or radiation therapy
Types of Hormone Therapy
There are three main ways to have Hormone Therapy for Prostate Cancer.
- Tablets to obstruct the effects of testosterone
- Implants or Injections to prevent your testicles from making testosterone
- Surgery to remove the testicles or the sections of the testicles that create testosterone. The removal of testicles is called an Orchiectomy surgery
The type you have, will depend on your own choice, whether your cancer has spread, and any other treatments that you’re undergoing. You can undertake more than one type of Hormone Therapy at the same time.
How does Hormone Therapy work?
Hormone therapy can work out in two ways – one, by stopping your body from making the hormone Testosterone, and the other by stopping the Testosterone from reaching the Prostate Cancer Cells. However, Hormone therapy alone may not be enough to treat your Prostate Cancer. If you have hormone therapy by itself, the treatment will target to manage your cancer and stop or deal with any symptoms. Hormone therapy can also be used with other treatments, such as Radiotherapy, to make them more successful.