What is hormone therapy?
Hormone therapy is a form of systemic therapy 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 forms of cancer, alongside integrative oncology services to combat side effects.
Why we're different
Many types of cancer require hormones for growth. Hormone therapy can be used to prevent cancer cells from getting the hormones they need to grow. We may use hormone therapy in combination with other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
We understand there are many factors that may influence your treatment choices, such as your desire to have children. We will listen to you and work as a team to develop a treatment plan that seeks to meet your individual needs.
How we support you
Some hormone therapies can cause a range of side effects, depending on the type of cancer involved. For example, breast cancer patients may experience hot flashes, vaginal dryness, decreased sex drive, and mood changes. Prostate cancer patients may experience reduced ability to achieve an erection or orgasm. Other therapies may also cause joint and muscle pain, and an increased risk of bone thinning.
Throughout your treatment, we will provide integrative oncology services to help combat these side effects. Naturopathic medicine, nutrition therapy, mind-body medicine, and spiritual support can help reduce side effects and improve your overall quality of life.
Hormone therapy for breast cancer
Some common types of breast cancer hormone therapy include:
- SERMs (Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators): These drugs bind to estrogen receptors in the breast cancer cells to block estrogen from reaching cancer cells, which prevents their growth. Tamoxifen is a commonly-used hormone therapy used to prevent breast cancer recurrence. This drug is also used for post-menopausal women at high risk for developing breast cancer.
- Aromatase Inhibitors: These breast cancer hormone therapy drugs block estrogen production by binding to the enzyme responsible for producing estrogen (the aromatase enzyme). Once estrogen production is halted, the cancer cells starve from lack of estrogen, which prevents them from growing and dividing.
We understand there are many factors that can influence your breast cancer treatment choices, such as your desire to have children. We will listen to you and work as a team to develop a breast cancer treatment plan to meet your individual needs.
We may use hormone therapy in combination with other breast cancer treatments. For example, prior to menopause, the ovaries are the main source of the body's estrogen (the hormone that makes some breast cancers grow). Some women who have gone through menopause may decide to have surgery to remove their ovaries.
Addressing side effects of breast cancer hormone therapy
While undergoing hormone therapies for breast cancer, you may experience side effects such as: hot flashes; vaginal discharge, dryness and irritation; irregular periods; decreased sex drive; and mood changes. Aromatase inhibitors may also cause joint and muscle pain, as well as an increased risk of bone thinning (osteoporosis).
Throughout your breast cancer therapy, we will provide integrative oncology services, including naturopathic medicine, nutrition therapy, mind-body medicine and spiritual support to help reduce side effects and improve your overall quality of life during breast cancer hormone therapy.