Call us 24/7

​Hormone therapy

About hormone therapy

Hormone therapy is a form of systemic therapy—a way of administering drugs so they travel throughout the body, rather than being delivered directly to the cancer—that works to add, block or remove hormones from the body to slow or stop the growth of cancer cells. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), we use hormone therapy to fight various types of cancer.

Hormones are known as the body’s chemical messengers and are produced in the endocrine glands, which include glands such as the thyroid, pancreas, ovaries in women and testes in men. Some hormones encourage the growth of some cancers, such as breast and prostate. But, in some cases, they may kill, slow or stop cancer cells from growing.

Hormone therapy drugs

Hormone therapy usually involves taking medications that prevent cancer cells from getting the hormones they need to grow. In some cases, your doctor may surgically remove the gland responsible for hormone production. Our physicians may use hormone therapy in combination with other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Here are some frequently used hormone therapy drugs that treat common cancer types:

  • Abiraterone (Zytiga®): Prostate cancer
  • Anastrozole (Arimidex®): Breast cancer
  • Exemestane (Aromasin®): Breast cancer
  • Fulvestrant (Faslodex®): Breast cancer
  • Letrozole (Femara®): Breast cancer
  • Leuprolide (Eligard®, Lupron Depot®): Breast cancer, prostate cancer, uterine cancer
  • Tamoxifen (Nolvadex®): Breast cancer

Because this treatment interferes with the functioning of specific hormones in the body, depending on the type of cancer and specific drug administered, medications may cause side effects. Hormone therapy drugs taken to treat prostate cancer, for example, may cause erectile dysfunction. For women taking hormone therapy drugs, side effects may include vaginal dryness. Other potential side effects of hormone therapy drugs include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Loss of bone density
  • Loss of libido
  • Weight gain
  • Mood swings
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting

Your doctor may help determine whether hormone therapy may be a good treatment option for you, taking into account your specific cancer type, treatment goals and personal preferences. He or she also may recommend supportive care therapies designed to help prevent and manage side effects. Mind-body medicine, for instance, may help with intimacy issues that arise while taking hormone therapy drugs, and a registered dietitian may design a meal plan to help with nutritional challenges stemming from the treatment.

Search our database to find a physician.