Hormone therapy for prostate cancer

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How hormones work These tumours are stimulated by the bodies own hormones (the male hormone testosterone). Stopping the bodies hormones reaching the tumour cause the cancer cells to stop growing and in some cases shrivel up and die (self destruct - apoptosis).  Hormone therapies work in three main ways. 

How are hormones used Hormones are used in 4 settings; [1] Hormone cytoreduction, [2] Adjuvant after radiotherapy or surgery[3] Primary hormone therapy  [4] Hormone  therapy for metastatic disease. 

[1] Hormone cytoreduction Hormones are usually used for a period of 3-6 month pre-radiotherapy in this setting and ha three advantages:- 

[2] Adjuvant therapy For patient with disease which has a moderate or high risk of relapsing after primary treatments a number of studies have shown that between 1-3 years hormones my reduce this risk.  

[3] Primary hormone therapy. The average response duration from hormone therapy is 2 years. Extrapolating this into early prostate cancer means that the treatment decision can be delayed on average by 2 years with this treatment. If a man has a life expectancy less than this, hormone therapy alone may be appropriate. In the majority of men this option is not appropriate:-

[4] Hormone therapy for disease which has spread outside the gland (bones, lymph nodes etc). This is a palliative treatment option. 

What hormones are used:

[1] Orchidectomy (removing the hormone producing part of the testes)

[2] LHRH agonists eg. Zoladex

[3] Steroidal antiandrogens eg. cyperoterone acetate

[4] Non-Steroidal anti-androgens eg. casodex, Flutamide

[5] Oestrogens eg. stilboestrol

Further general information Your doctors and specialist nurses are in an ideal position to give you relevant information on your disease and treatment as they know your individual circumstances. Cancerbackup has a help line (0808 800 1234) and a prize winning video available in English, Italian, Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati & Hindi explaining Radiotherapy & Chemotherapy. Cancernet.co.uk has over 500 pages describing cancer, its management, practical tips and tool which patients, their carers and their doctors have found helpful during the cancer journey.

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