Patients who have prostate cancer may be recommended by their urologist to undergo hormone therapy to boost their cancer treatment. Hormone therapy – or androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) – for prostate cancer aims to reduce the body’s production of testosterone, which can help prostate cancer grow in a man’s body.
The goal of this treatment is to reduce the amount of testosterone in the body. However, not all prostate cancer patients are good candidates for hormone therapy. Let’s talk about when this treatment becomes an option for a patient, and where you can go in Phoenix for effective prostate cancer treatment.
Prostate cancer is one type of cancer that is hormone-sensitive or hormone-dependent. What this means is that the male hormone in your body is what prostate cancer cells need as fuel to grow.
Testosterone is what gives males their distinct characteristics, such as facial hair, body shape, and libido. The testosterone hormone is mostly produced by the testicles; some amounts of this hormone are produced by the adrenal glands, which are located above each kidney. Hormone therapy can slow down the growth of prostate cancer or prevent it from spreading to other areas of the man’s body.
Medications used in this hormone therapy:
- Prevent the glands from producing testosterone,
- Are luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) or gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists and antagonists, or
- Are anti-androgens that block testosterone from reaching the prostate cancer cells.
To minimize the side effects of this special hormone therapy, doctors usually recommend taking them only for certain periods of time, or intermittent dosing. A man may resume taking them only if the disease progresses or recurs.
Hormone therapy is not curative, but it is part of a comprehensive treatment for tamping down prostate cancer:
- Hormone therapy may be an option for you if you have early-stage prostate cancer. Hormone treatment for early-stage prostate cancer is called neoadjuvant or pre-therapy, wherein hormone therapy is a complementary treatment to help foster the main treatment.
- Hormone therapy is also an option for those men with advanced prostate cancer, with the goal of shrinking the tumor through testosterone deprivation.
- If after prostate cancer treatment (such as a radical prostatectomy) you still have high prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels, then hormone therapy may be recommended.
- This treatment may be part of a dual treatment along with radiation, such as to treat a recurrence of prostate cancer after a prostatectomy. For example, you may have the recurrence in an abdominal lymph node. Even stage 4 prostate cancer is highly treatable with this method in such a case.
- If you are at high risk of prostate cancer recurrence, hormone therapy may be recommended to reduce the risk.
- If you are not a good candidate for surgery or radiation therapy.
Dr. Desi Avila is a board-certified urologist at Ironwood Urology who specializes in treatments for male-specific problems, including prostate cancer. Dr. Avila provides preventive services to help you stay on top of your prostate health at every age. We provide treatments for enlarged prostate (BPH, or benign prostatic hyperplasia) as well as highly advanced screenings to detect issues early and increase your chances of successful treatment.