Hormone Therapy | Cancer Treatment FAQ and Patient Stories

Hormone Therapy FAQ
Cancer Treatment
Stories

Hormone therapy is also known as hormonal therapy, hormone treatment, or endocrine therapy. It is used to either slow or stop the growth of cancers that grow using hormones.

Below, find answers to popular hormone therapy questions and experiences of hormone therapy shared by The Patient Story community.


General Hormone Therapy FAQ

Hormone therapy as cancer treatment

There are two primary ways doctors use hormone therapy in cancer treatment.

  • Treat cancer: Using hormone therapy to stop or slow cancer growth, reduce chances cancer will return 
  • Alleviate cancer symptoms: Using hormone therapy to either cut down or completely prevent symptoms in certain cancers like prostate, where patients are unable to use radiation therapy or surgery.
Different kinds of hormone therapy

There are two main categories of hormone therapy:

  • Blocking the body’s ability to produce hormones
  • Disrupting how hormones act or behave in the body
Most commonly treated cancers

Hormone therapy is effective against cancers that use hormones to grow, including breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Hormone therapy used with other cancer treatments

It’s usually used alongside other cancer treatments, which depends on the cancer type, stage, whether there’s metastasis (spread to other areas), and general health issues.

When hormone therapy is combined with other treatments, it’s known as:

  • Neo-adjuvant therapy: Shrink a tumor before radiation therapy or surgery.
  • Adjuvant therapy: Decrease the risk that the cancer will return after the main part of treatment.
  • Destroy the cancer cells that have either spread to other places in your body (metastasis) or that have returned (in relapse or recurrence).

Hormone therapy side effects

As with other cancer treatment types, there are common side effects as a result of hormone therapy.

The way hormone therapy blocks the body’s ability to create hormones or disrupts hormone behavior, it leads to side effects. The kind and severity of the side effects depend on different factors, especially because everyone’s body and experience is different.

Prostate cancer hormone therapy side effects

Common side effects for men on hormone therapy for prostate cancer treatment include:

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Hot flashes
  • Weakened bones
  • Loss of interest in or ability to have sex
  • Tender and enlarged breasts
Breast cancer hormone therapy side effects

Common side effects for women on hormone therapy for breast cancer treatment include:

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Hot flashes
  • Mood changes
  • Changes in menstrual cycle if before menopause
  • Loss of interest in sex

Hormone Therapy Stories and Experiences

Here are different experiences with hormone therapies, as described by our TPS community members.

Arimidex (anastrozole)
Breast Cancer Stories: DCIS, Stage 4, Metastatic, Triple Positive, Grade 2, Relapse Twice | Alison’s Story

Alison R., Partially Differentiated DCIS, Stage 4 Metastatic



Cancer details: Triple positive = positive for HER2, estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR)
1st Symptoms: Lump in underarm/breast
Treatment: Chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, targeted therapy
...
Breast Cancer Stories: IDC, Stage 2B, Soft Tissue Sarcoma as 2nd Cancer | Monica’s Story

Monica H., IDC, Stage 2B



Cancer details: IDC is most common kind of breast cancer.
1st Symptoms: Tightness and lump in left breast
Treatment: Chemotherapy, radiation, surgery
...
Breast Cancer Stories: IDC, Stage 2B, ER+, PR+| Caitlin’s Story

Caitlin J., IDC, Stage 2B, ER/PR Positive



Cancer Details: ER/PR positive = estrogen and progesterone receptor positive
1st Symptoms:
Lump found on breast
Treatment:
Lumpectomy, AC/T chemotherapy, radiation, and hormone therapy (Lupron and Anastrozole)
...
Lupron (leuprorelin)
Prostate Cancer Stories: Gleason Score 9, Surgery, Radiation | Dennis’ Patient Story

Dennis G., Gleason 9 (Contained)



Cancer Details: Staged Gleason score 9
1st Symptoms: Urinating more frequently middle of night, slower urine flow
Treatment: Radical prostatectomy (surgery), salvage radiation, hormone therapy (Lupron)
...
Prostate Cancer Stories: Stage 4A, Gleason Score 8/9 | Bruce’s Patient Story

Bruce M., Gleason 8/9, Stage 4A



Cancer Details: Staged Gleason 6/7 pre-surgery, post-surgery changed to 8/9, PSA level at 27
1st Symptoms: Urination changes, brother's prostate cancer diagnosis
Treatment: Radical prostatectomy (surgery), salvage radiation, hormone therapy (Casodex & Lupron)
...
Sarcoma Stories: Ewing Sarcoma, Stage 1B | Brandi’s Story

Brandi B.,
Ewing Sarcoma,
Stage 1B (Soft Tissue)




Cancer Details: Adult case of soft tissue Ewing sarcoma, not bone sarcoma
1st Symptoms: Extreme fatigue, lump in pelvic area
Treatment: 17 cycles of chemotherapy in-patient at hospital with (leg-sparing) surgery in between
...
Breast Cancer Stories: DCIS, Stage 4, Metastatic, Triple Positive, Grade 2, Relapse Twice | Alison’s Story

Alison R., Partially Differentiated DCIS, Stage 4 Metastatic



Cancer details: Triple positive = positive for HER2, estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR)
1st Symptoms: Lump in underarm/breast
Treatment: Chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, targeted therapy
...
Breast Cancer Stories: IDC, Stage 2B, Soft Tissue Sarcoma as 2nd Cancer | Monica’s Story

Monica H., IDC, Stage 2B



Cancer details: IDC is most common kind of breast cancer.
1st Symptoms: Tightness and lump in left breast
Treatment: Chemotherapy, radiation, surgery
...
Breast Cancer Stories: IDC, Stage 2B, ER+, PR+| Caitlin’s Story

Caitlin J., IDC, Stage 2B, ER/PR Positive



Cancer Details: ER/PR positive = estrogen and progesterone receptor positive
1st Symptoms:
Lump found on breast
Treatment:
Lumpectomy, AC/T chemotherapy, radiation, and hormone therapy (Lupron and Anastrozole)
...

References:

  • cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/types/hormone-therapy