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Endocrine Therapy For Prostate Cancer

What To Expect During Hormone Therapy

Hormone Therapy for Prostate Cancer

As you go through hormone deprivation therapy, youâll have follow-up visits with your cancer doctor. Theyâll ask about side effects and check your PSA levels.

Doctors donât know how long hormone therapy works to keep prostate cancer in check. So, while you take it, your doctor will regularly draw blood to check your PSA levels. Undetectable or low PSA levels usually mean that the treatment is working. If your PSA levels go up, itâs a sign that the cancer has started growing again. If this happens, your cancer is considered castrate-resistant, and hormone deprivation therapy is no longer an effective treatment.

Youâll also get other blood tests to see if the cancer is affecting other parts of your body like your liver, kidneys, or bones. Scans will show how well your cancer is responding to hormone therapy.

To lessen the side effects of hormone therapy drugs, researchers suggest that you take them for just a set amount of time or until your PSA drops to a low level. If the cancer comes back or gets worse, you may need to start treatment again.

What Is Unique About Receiving Hormone Therapy At Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers

At Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers, your cancer care team will design a personalized cancer treatment plan that provides the ideal combination of therapies for the best possible outcome. Under our care, you will be monitored closely to determine if your hormone therapy is working. This involves regular PSA tests for prostate cancer treatment and regular checkups for breast cancer treatment.

Rest assured, you are in good hands with Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers. We believe in treating the whole person, not just the disease, which is why we will work hard to create the best cancer treatment plan for you.

Drugs That Stop Androgens From Working


For most prostate cancer cells to grow, androgens have to attach to a protein in the prostate cancer cell called an androgen receptor. Anti-androgens are drugs that also connect to these receptors, keeping the androgens from causing tumor growth. Anti-androgens are also sometimes called androgen receptor antagonists.

Drugs of this type include:

They are taken daily as pills.

In the United States, anti-androgens are not often used by themselves:

  • An anti-androgen may be added to treatment if orchiectomy or an LHRH agonist or antagonist is no longer working by itself.
  • An anti-androgen is also sometimes given for a few weeks when an LHRH agonist is first started. This can help prevent a tumor flare.
  • An anti-androgen can also be combined with orchiectomy or an LHRH agonist as first-line hormone therapy. This is called combined androgen blockade . There is still some debate as to whether CAB is more effective in this setting than using orchiectomy or an LHRH agonist alone. If there is a benefit, it appears to be small.
  • In some men, if an anti-androgen is no longer working, simply stopping the anti-androgen can cause the cancer to stop growing for a short time. This is called the anti-androgen withdrawal effect, although it is not clear why it happens.

Newer anti-androgens

Enzalutamide , apalutamide and darolutamide are newer types of anti-androgens. They can sometimes be helpful even when older anti-androgens are not.

These drugs are taken as pills each day.

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Types Of Hormone Therapy For Prostate Cancer

The overwhelming majority of patients get androgen deprivation by way of medical therapy, explains Moshe Ornstein, MD, a genitourinary medical oncologist at Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center.

Doctors use several types of medication to lower testosterone levels, but these therapies do so only temporarily. When you stop taking them, testosterone levels begin to rise again.

Here are some of the most commonly used hormone therapies.

Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone agonists and antagonists LHRH is one of the key hormones released by the body before testosterone is produced. LHRH agonists and antagonists lower testosterone levels by blocking the release of LHRH. Treatment with these drugs is sometimes called medical castration because they lower androgen levels as much as orchiectomy, or removal of the testicles, does.

LHRH agonists and antagonists include:

CYP17 inhibitors An LHRH agonist or antagonist can stop the testicles from making androgens, but other cells in the body still make small amounts of androgens. These small amounts of hormones can continue to stimulate cancer growth. A newer medication, Zytiga , blocks a key enzyme involved in androgen production called the CYP17 enzyme. Zytiga can be used to treat metastatic prostate cancer that has become resistant to traditional hormone therapies.

Traditional anti-androgens may be given along with LHRH agonists and antagonists. They include:

Radiation Therapy Side Effects

Treating Locally Advanced Prostate Cancer

Because the prostate is close to several vital structures, radiation therapy can disrupt normal urinary, bowel, and sexual functioning.Short-term ComplicationsYou may experience some temporary urinary symptoms, such as waking up in the night and needing to urinate, needing to urinate more often during â¦

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What Are Male Sex Hormones

Hormones are substances that are made by glands in the body. Hormones circulate in the bloodstream and control the actions of certain cells or organs.

Androgens are a class of hormones that control the development and maintenance of male characteristics. The most abundant androgens in men are testosterone and dihydrotestosterone .

Androgens are required for normal growth and function of the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system that helps make . Androgens are also necessary for prostate cancers to grow. Androgens promote the growth of both normal and cancerous prostate cells by binding to and activating the androgen receptor, a protein that is expressed in prostate cells . Once activated, the androgen receptor stimulates the expression of specific genes that cause prostate cells to grow .

Almost all testosterone is produced in the testicles a small amount is produced by the adrenal glands. Although prostate cells do not normally make testosterone, some prostate cancer cells acquire the ability to do so .

Side Effects Of Hormone Therapy For Prostate Cancer

As with all prostate cancer treatments, hormone therapy may produce side effects. Though these side effects vary depending on the type of therapy used, general side effects associated with hormone therapy include:

  • Loss of strength and muscle
  • Reduced bone density, which may lead to fractures
  • Resistance to insulin

Additional medications, exercise plans and emotional support may be used to help manage these and other side effects..

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Hormone Therapy And Radiation Therapy In Treating Patients With Prostate Cancer

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Read our disclaimer for details.
First Posted : January 27, 2003Results First Posted : October 31, 2017Last Update Posted : June 15, 2022

RATIONALE: Hormones can stimulate the growth of prostate cancer cells. Hormone therapy may fight prostate cancer by reducing the production of androgens. Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays to damage tumor cells. It is not yet known which regimen of hormone therapy and radiation therapy is more effective for prostate cancer.

PURPOSE: Randomized phase III trial to compare the effectiveness of two different regimens of hormone therapy and radiation therapy in treating patients who have prostate cancer.

Condition or disease
Drug: CasodexDrug: EulexinDrug: LHRH agonistRadiation: radiation therapy Phase 3


OUTLINE: This is a randomized, multicenter study. Patients are stratified according to prostate-specific antigen level , tumor stage , Gleason score , and prior hormonal therapy . Patients are randomized to one of two treatment arms.

Patients are followed every 3 months for 1 year, every 6 months for 4 years, and then annually thereafter.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Hormone Therapy

Intermittent Hormone Therapy for Prostate Cancer 101 | Ask a Prostate Expert, Mark Scholz, MD


  • It can control your cancer even if it has spread to other parts of your body.
  • It can be used with other treatments such as radiotherapy and make it more effective.
  • In advanced prostate cancer it can reduce bone pain and urinary symptoms.


  • It can affect your quality of life due to side-effects
  • It can keep prostate cancer under control for some time but unfortunately it cant cure it.

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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:

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:

This information is used to help your doctor chose the most effective type of hormone therapy for you. The types of hormone therapy include:

Neoadjuvant hormone therapy

If you have early stage prostate cancer, you and your doctor may decide on a course of hormone therapy prior to the start of your main prostate cancer treatment. This is called neoadjuvant or pre-therapy. This type of hormone therapy is used to help shrink your prostate cancer tumor. This helps make your main treatment more effective. This is very common with men who get radiation therapy.

Adjuvant hormone therapy

Adjuvant therapy is given to you at the same time you have your main prostate cancer treatment.

Salvage hormone therapy

Early Versus Delayed Treatment

For men who need hormone therapy, such as men whose PSA levels are rising after surgery or radiation or men with advanced prostate cancer who dont yet have symptoms, its not always clear when it is best to start hormone treatment. Some doctors think that hormone therapy works better if its started as soon as possible, even if a man feels well and is not having any symptoms. Some studies have shown that hormone treatment may slow the disease down and perhaps even help men live longer.

But not all doctors agree with this approach. Some are waiting for more evidence of benefit. They feel that because of the side effects of hormone therapy and the chance that the cancer could become resistant to therapy sooner, treatment shouldnt be started until a man has symptoms from the cancer. This issue is being studied.

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A New Treatment Standard

Still, some men have difficulty tolerating ADT, and not all of them should get it, particularly if theyre older and more likely to die of something other than prostate cancer. Id reserve ADT for younger men with a long life expectancy ahead of them who were diagnosed initially with high-grade or late-stage disease, Thompson said.

This important study confirms that combined therapy is superior to radiation alone and should be viewed as the standard treatment for PSA relapse, said Dr. Marc Garnick, the Gorman Brothers Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and editor in chief of High dose bicalutamide has been associated with cardiovascular side effects, but ongoing and future research is clarifying how best to use ADT in this particular setting.

How Effective Is Hormone Therapy At Treating Prostate Cancer

Hormone Therapy for Prostate Cancer

While hormone therapy cant cure your prostate cancer, it can stop or slow the growth of the prostate cancer cells in your body. Hormone therapy is remarkably effective, says Dr. Ornstein. Probably over 90 percent of patients will have a nice drop in their PSA while they are on androgen deprivation therapy. The cancer should not grow or spread, because there is no more fuel, he explains.

In many men, however, some cells gain the ability to grow even in the low-testosterone environment created by hormone therapy. As these hormone therapy-resistant prostate cancer cells continue to multiply, the hormone therapy, not surprisingly, has less and less effect on the growth of the tumor.

Prostate cancer that is no longer responding to hormone therapy is referred to as castration-resistant prostate cancer.

Fortunately, men with castration-resistant prostate cancer have more options for treatment than ever before. At that point, we can add something new, such as a newer hormonal agent, chemotherapy, or a different chemotherapy, if you had one up front, or an immunotherapy, explains Ornstein.

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Yes, Medicare covers chemotherapy cancer treatment for patients in a hospital setting, outpatient setting, or doctors office. If its administered during a hospital stay, you may have to pay the Part A deductible. If done at a doctors. The Data Visualizations tool makes it easy for anyone to explore and use the latest official federal government cancer data from United States Cancer Statistics. It includes the latest cancer data covering the U.S. population. See rates or numbers of new prostatecancers or prostatecancer deaths for the entire United States and individual states.

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Confirming What Weve Practiced For Years

  • What was the grade of the cancer?
  • Was it at the edge of the removed prostate gland?
  • Was it in the attached seminal vesicles or extending beyond the capsule?
  • Was there cancer in any removed lymph nodes?
  • What is the trend of serum PSA since surgery?
  • How old is the patient, what are his other medical issues, and what are his goals?
  • We infrequently operate on men with a Gleason cancer aggressiveness score of 6 or lower given our robust surveillance program for such patients. Our focus has been on those with higher grade disease, where we have long added hormone therapy to radiation when disease recurs after surgery. The majority of patients on this study fit this profile, reassuring us we are concentrating on the right biology of patient.
  • When a mans PSA level is low, less than 0.5, we are more confident that radiation alone will prevent recurrence. Using early radiation and higher doses with modern techniques has improved outcomes, and thus the addition of hormones is more carefully measured in such patients. This study did not find survival benefit for patients with PSA levels of less than 0.7, supporting our emphasis on this strategy.
  • The study also confirms another of our standard practices: If a mans PSA is above 0.7, all patients do better with added hormone therapy.
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    Will I Have Other Treatments In Addition To Hormone Therapy

    Your RMCC oncologist may recommend using hormone therapy in combination with other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy. When used with other treatments, hormone therapy can:

    • Make a tumor smaller before surgery or radiation therapy. This is called neoadjuvant therapy.
    • Lower the risk that cancer will come back after the primary treatment. This is called adjuvant therapy.
    • Destroy cancer cells that have returned or spread to other parts of your body.

    Hormone Therapy With Radiation

    Hormone Therapy & Advanced Therapies for Prostate Cancer, Celestia Higano, MD | 2021 Mid-Year Update

    Hormone therapy is often given together with radiation therapy for localized disease .

    Hormone therapy usually consists of a shot that lowers your testosterone, given every 1 to 6 months, depending on the formulation. Sometimes, it is prescribed as a daily pill that blocks testosterone from reaching the cancer cells. Clinical trials show a benefit in patients who receive hormonal treatment in combination with external beam radiation. Hormone therapy has been shown to improve cure rates of prostate cancer for men receiving radiation therapy and is part of the standard of care for men with certain types of intermediate-risk prostate cancer and nearly all high-risk prostate cancer. It is often given for intermediate-risk cancer for 4 to 6 months , and for 2 to 3 years in men with high-risk localized prostate cancer, although some doctors may recommend as little as 18 months of hormone therapy.

    Hormone therapy should not be given to men with low-risk prostate cancer and is not a standalone treatment for localized prostate cancer in any risk category.

    Want more information about a prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment options? Download or order a print copy of the Prostate Cancer Patient Guide.

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    Microscopic Findings Of Hormonal Therapy Effects On Adenocarcinoma Gleason Grade

    It has been established that Gleason grading should not be performed after androgen-deprivation therapy. This is because androgen-deprivation therapy effects induce histomorphologic changes that simulate higher-grade disease, such as luminal space loss and single-cell infiltrates . It should be noted, however, that finasteride has little, if any, effect on the Gleason grade of adenocarcinoma.

    Hormone Therapy And Prostate Cancer

    Prostate cancer is fueled by testosterone, a hormone produced in the testicles. The aim of HT is to interfere with either testosterone production or cancer cells’ ability to use testosterone. Medical evidence tells us that eliminating or substantially reducing testosterone production has a significant impact on controlling progression of the disease and may even halt progression. Testosterone is one of several hormones called androgens that are linked to sexual health and other processes in the body. This is why HT is often referred to as androgen deprivation therapy .

    To be clear, this is not the “hormone therapy” of which you often hear. Women get “hormone therapy” to supplement waning estrogen levels, and older men without prostate cancer may get “hormone therapy” that administers additional testosterone. The “hormone therapy” we are talking about for men with prostate cancer is more accurately described as androgyn deprivation therapy . It is given to lower testosterone levels.

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