What Is Hormone herapy?
To help you understand what hormone therapy (or androgen deprivation therapy) is and how it may affect your prostate cancer, it is good for you to understand what hormones are and how they work in your body. Hormones control or manage your body’s activities. Hormones are made by glands in your body and are carried by your blood to all areas in your body. Glands are groups of cells in your body that make and release materials needed by your body.
Testosterone is the main male hormone in your body. It makes you grow hair on your face and body and have a man’s body shape and controls your desire for sex. Testosterone also controls your prostate gland. Your testicles make most of the testosterone in your body. A small amount of testosterone is also made by your adrenal glands. Your adrenal glands are located on top of each kidney. Your adrenal glands also make other hormones.
Prostate cancer is hormone sensitive or hormone dependent. This means that the testosterone in your body helps your prostate cancer to grow. The goal of hormone therapy is to lower the amount of testosterone in your body to stop or slow the growth of your prostate cancer. You can lower the amount of testosterone in your body by taking medicines or having surgery.
How Does Hormone Therapy Work?
Prostate cancer cells need testosterone to grow. These hormones act like a fuel to feed your prostate cancer cells and keep them active. Hormone therapy works by:
- Reducing hormones in your body. By lowering the amount of testosterone in your body, hormone therapy cuts off the supply of hormones your prostate cancer cells need to live.
- Changing your prostate cancer’s ability to use hormones. Hormone therapy medicines can keep your prostate cancer cells from getting the testosterone they need to grow.
By reducing or changing the way your prostate cancer cells get testosterone, your cancer cells will either die or slow down and stop growing.
Can Hormone Therapy Cure My Prostate Cancer?
No, hormone therapy cannot cure your prostate cancer. The goal of hormone therapy is to stop or slow the growth of the prostate cancer cells in your body. Hormone therapy can shrink prostate cancer tumors and may stop or limit the spread of your prostate cancer. Hormone therapy is used to control your prostate cancer.
When Is Hormone Therapy Used for Prostate Cancer?
On its own, hormone therapy can be a good way to control the growth of your prostate cancer. It can also be used with another prostate cancer treatment to help it work better. You should keep in mind that the following things will affect when you have hormone therapy and if you have hormone therapy along with another type of prostate cancer treatment:
- The grade of your prostate cancer
- Your Gleason score
- The stage of your prostate cancer
- Your PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) level
- Your age
- Your general health
Your stage, grade, and Gleason score are determined by a pathologist. A pathologist is a specially trained physician who reviews biopsy results in order to find changes in your body caused by cancer. When you had your prostate biopsy, the pathologist looked at the tissue samples taken from your prostate gland and prepared your biopsy report. The report tells you and your doctor the following information:
- The grade tells you what your prostate cancer cells look like.
- The Gleason score. The Gleason score tells you what your prostate cancer cells look like compared to healthy cells and gives you an idea of how quickly your cancer is growing. Your Gleason score will range from 2 to 10.
- The stage tells how much prostate cancer you have and where your cancer is located.