Why Is This Medication Prescribed
Degarelix injection is used to treat advanced prostate cancer . Degarelix injection is in a class of medications called gonadotropin-releasing hormone receptor antagonists. It works by decreasing the amount of testosterone produced by the body. This may slow or stop the spread of prostate cancer cells that need testosterone to grow.
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While Youre Taking Hormonal Therapy
- Tell your doctor or nurse if youre taking any medications, including patches and creams, or if youve changed medications. Some medications may change the way hormonal therapy works. Tell your doctor if youre taking:
- Medications that require a prescription
- Medications that dont require a prescription
- Any herbal remedies, vitamins, or dietary supplements
How Often And For How Long Will I Need Hormone Therapy
How often you have hormone therapy will depend on the type of drug you are receiving and the type of cancer treated. Some medications need to be administered monthly, while others dont have to be administered quite as frequently.
In regards to how long hormone therapy will last, this will vary based upon the type of cancer you have and how well you are responding to treatment. For some people, it could continue for a few months. However, it is normal to need to continue with hormone therapy for several years. A common example is women undergoing hormone therapy for breast cancer it is normal to continue with treatment for five to seven years.
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Early History Of Hormonal Therapy For Prostate Cancer
The use of androgen deprivation as therapy for advanced prostate cancer began in 1941, when Huggins and Hodges first treated men with prostate cancer with either orchiectomy or estrogen.1 They monitored changes in prostate size and observed that improvements in acid and alkaline phosphatases were associated with cancer-related symptom relief. Largely due to the absence of other therapies, hormonal manipulation became a mainstay of treatment for symptomatic metastatic disease. Although it was originally hoped that suppression of testicular androgens would be curative, this proved not to be the case.
Although the testes are the primary source of testosterone, the adrenal glands also produce androgens. As a result, many patients with castrate levels of testosterone continue to have measurable levels of dihydrotestosterone in the prostate, thereby allowing continued stimulation of prostate cancer cells.2 The importance of adrenal androgens in prostate cancer was observed by Huggins and Hodges in their pioneering study, as many patients continued to have measurable levels of serum acid phosphatase, a surrogate marker of the disease, following medical or surgical castration. The authors considered this a clear indication that androgen production by the adrenal glands was ongoing.1
How Does Hormone Therapy Work Against Prostate Cancer
Early in their development, prostate cancers need androgens to grow. Hormone therapies, which are treatments that decrease androgen levels or block androgen action, can inhibit the growth of such prostate cancers, which are therefore called castration sensitive, androgen dependent, or androgen sensitive.
Most prostate cancers eventually stop responding to hormone therapy and become castration resistant. That is, they continue to grow even when androgen levels in the body are extremely low or undetectable. In the past, these tumors were also called hormone resistant, androgen independent, or hormone refractory however, these terms are rarely used now because the tumors are not truly independent of androgens for their growth. In fact, some newer hormone therapies have become available that can be used to treat tumors that have become castration resistant.
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What Types Of Hormone Therapy Are There
There are two basic kinds of hormone therapy for prostate cancer. One class of drugs stops the body from making certain hormones. The other allows the body to make these hormones, but prevents them from attaching to the cancer cells. Some doctors start treatment with both drugs in an effort to achieve a total androgen block. This approach goes by several names: combined androgen blockade, complete androgen blockade, or total androgen blockade.
Heres a rundown of the techniques.
Hormone therapy for prostate cancer can cause bone thinning osteoporosis, which can lead to broken bones. However, treatment with bisphosphonates like Aredia, Fosamax, and Zometa may help prevent this condition from developing, says Holden.
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Hormonal Therapy For Aggressive Prostate Cancer: How Long Is Enough
- By Charlie Schmidt, Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases
Men weighing treatment options for intermediate- or high-risk cancer that is still localized to the prostate can face a tricky question. A standard approach in these cases is to give radiation to the prostate along with drugs that block testosterone, a hormone that makes the cancer cells grow faster. For how long should this hormone therapy last? Thats not entirely clear. The drugs have side effects, such as fatigue, impotence, and a loss of muscle mass. But radiation doesnt control prostate cancer effectively without them. Doctors therefore aim to give hormone therapy only for as long as it takes to help their patients, without causing any undue harm.
Now, newly published results from a phase 3 clinical trial are providing some needed guidance.
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If Treatment Does Not Work
Recovery from cancer is not always possible. If the cancer cannot be cured or controlled, the disease may be called advanced or terminal.
This diagnosis is stressful, and for some people, advanced cancer may be difficult to discuss. However, it is important to have open and honest conversations with your health care team to express your feelings, preferences, and concerns. The health care team has special skills, experience, and knowledge to support patients and their families and is there to help. Making sure a person is physically comfortable, free from pain, and emotionally supported is extremely important.
People who have advanced cancer and who are expected to live less than 6 months may want to consider hospice care. Hospice care is designed to provide the best possible quality of life for people who are near the end of life. You and your family are encouraged to talk with the health care team about hospice care options, which include hospice care at home, a special hospice center, or other health care locations. Nursing care and special equipment, including a hospital bed, can make staying at home a workable option for many families. Learn more about advanced cancer care planning.
After the death of a loved one, many people need support to help them cope with the loss. Learn more about grief and loss.
When Is Hormone Therapy Used
Hormone therapy may be used:
- If the cancer has spread too far to be cured by surgery or radiation, or if you cant have these treatments for some other reason
- If the cancer remains or comes back after treatment with surgery or radiation therapy
- Along with radiation therapy as the initial treatment, if you are at higher risk of the cancer coming back after treatment
- Before radiation to try to shrink the cancer to make treatment more effective
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What To Expect During Treatment
Doctors often use hormone therapies, such as Lupron, in combination with radiation therapy or other treatments. They may also use it following surgery.
Healthcare professionals administer Lupron as a depot, which is a small implant that they inject under the persons skin. The individual can often choose an injection site that is suitable for them. Common injection sites include:
The treatment regimen for Lupron will depend on the individuals circumstances, and a person can work with their doctor to determine the best dosage. Some typical dosages include:
- 7.5 mg one injection every 4 weeks
- 22.5 mg one injection every 12 weeks
- 30 mg one injection every 16 weeks
- 45 mg one injection every 24 weeks
When a person first starts treatment with Lupron, they may have a testosterone flare. Later on, they may experience side effects due to having very low testosterone levels in their body. After treatment stops, testosterone levels begin to return to normal.
When a person first takes Lupron, their testosterone levels may rise, or flare, before dropping to very low levels. For some people, particularly those with advanced prostate cancer, a testosterone flare can temporarily cause their symptoms to worsen.
The symptoms of a testosterone flare can include:
- blockage of the ureters, the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder
- spinal cord compression
- issues with urination
Possible side effects of hormone therapies, such as Lupron, can
- radiation therapy
Drugs That Lower Androgen Levels
The most common treatment is to take drugs that lower the amount of androgens made by the testicles. They are called luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone analogs and anti-androgens . These drugs lower androgen levels just as well as surgery does. This type of treatment is sometimes called chemical castration.
Men who receive androgen deprivation therapy should have follow-up exams with the doctor prescribing the drugs:
- Within 3 to 6 months after starting therapy
- At least once a year, to monitor blood pressure and perform blood sugar and cholesterol tests
- To get PSA blood tests to monitor how well the therapy is working
LH-RH analogs are given as a shot anywhere from once a month to every 6 months. These drugs include:
LH-RH antagonists are another class of treatments, including degarelix and relugolix . They reduce androgen levels more quickly and have fewer side effects. LH-RH antagonists are used in men with advanced cancer.
Some doctors recommend stopping and restarting treatment . This approach appears to help reduce hormone therapy side effects. However, it is not clear if intermittent therapy works as well as continuous therapy. Some studies indicate that continuous therapy is more effective or that intermittent therapy should only be used for select types of prostate cancer.
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Radiation Therapy Side Effects
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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Secondary Treatment Following Relapse
Hormone therapy may also be used as a secondary or salvage treatment when PSA levels rise following initial prostate cancer treatment, indicating the cancer has returned. This situation is known as biochemical recurrence. The salient points to keep in mind are that hormone therapy is most often used as a salvage treatment when PSA doubling time is less than six months, indicating that the cancer is aggressive or may have already metastasized.
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Are There Side Effects With Hormone Therapy
Yes, there are side effects or unwanted changes in your body caused by hormone therapy. Side effects are different from person to person, and may be different from one treatment to the next. Some people have no or very mild side effects. The good news is that there are ways to deal with most of the side effects. The side effects that you have depend on:
The side effects you have from hormone therapy may be acute or chronic. Acute side effects are sometimes called early side effects. These types of side effects happen soon after the treatment begins and usually go away after you finish your hormone therapy. Other side effects are called chronic side effects or late side effects. These side effects may happen several months after you start hormone therapy.
In order to reduce your chance of having side effects, your doctor may give you intermittent hormone therapy. If you are on intermittent hormone therapy, your doctor and health care team will carefully watch your PSA level. As it begins to go up, you are given hormone therapy medicine to lower your PSA. Another way for you to get intermittent hormone therapy is to take a medicine for a set period of time and then stop for a set period of time. For example, you may take a medicine for six months, stop for six months, and then start again for six months.
Medical Research Council Study
Two recent studies provide convincing clinical evidence supporting the early treatment of advanced prostate cancer: the randomized trial reported by the Medical Research Council 29 and the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group /SWOG Stage D1 study.30 The MRC study randomized 934 patients with locally advanced prostate cancer or asymptomatic metastasis to either immediate treatment or to the same treatment deferred until an indication occurred. This study showed that there was a more rapid local and distant disease progression in the deferred treatment group, as evidenced by an earlier onset of pain and an increased need for transurethral resection of the prostate. There was also a 2-fold increase in serious complications, such as pathologic fractures, spinal cord compression, and extraskeletal metastasis, in the deferred treatment group compared with those who received immediate treatment .29
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Possible Side Effects Of Vaccine Treatment
Common side effects from the vaccine can include fever, chills, fatigue, back and joint pain, nausea, and headache. These most often start during the cell infusions and last no more than a couple of days. A few men may have more severe symptoms, including problems breathing and high blood pressure, which usually get better after treatment.
Intermittent Or Continuous Therapy
Once prescribed, hormone therapy used to continue for life, but scientists are now reevaluating that strategy and investigating whether hormone therapy can be taken intermittently, with so-called holidays from treatment. The thinking is that this may not only help restore quality of life as, for example, returning libido and sexual health but also delay the hormone resistance that eventually develops in men taking hormone therapy.
Clinical trials evaluating whether intermittent therapy is as effective or more effective than continuous therapy are now under way, so it is too early to say for sure.
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Risk Of Other Health Problems
Evidence suggests that having hormone therapy might increase the chance of developing heart disease, stroke and type-2 diabetes. There is also some research that suggests having hormone therapy can increase your risk of getting blood clots and anaemia. But more research is needed to help us understand the links between these conditions.
Research shows that hormone therapy can cause:
- an increase in weight, particularly around the waist
- an increase in cholesterol levels
- changes in insulin.
Talk to your hospital doctor and GP about how often you should have general health checks. You may be weighed and have your blood pressure checked regularly. You may also have blood tests to check for diabetes and to measure your cholesterol levels. Your GP may suggest you have these checks about every six months. Or you can ask for them yourself at your GP surgery.
If you already have heart problems or diabetes, talk to your doctor before you start hormone therapy. They will work with you to manage these conditions.
While the risk of getting these conditions may be worrying, its important to remember that hormone therapy helps men to live longer by controlling the cancer.
What can help?
A healthy lifestyle can help reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and type-2 diabetes. This includes:
- eating a healthy diet
About Hormonal Therapy For Prostate Cancer
Testosterone is a male hormone. Its made when hormones from your pituitary gland cause your testes to make sperm. Testosterone can cause prostate cancer cells to grow.
Hormonal therapy prevents prostate cancer cells from growing by:
- Blocking the action of testosterone and other male hormones.
Your doctor may recommend hormonal therapy in order to:
- Make it easier for radiation to kill prostate cancer cells.
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What The Researchers Did
Dr. Crawfords team reviewed clinical data from nearly 23,000 men who were given ADT injections between 2007 and 2016. Each mans treatment varied by how their ADT was formulated. Some types of ADT are given once a month, and others are given at three-, four-, or six-month intervals. The researchers wanted to know how many men were late on their ADT treatments, and how that would affect the amounts of testosterone in their blood.
During this research, the investigators defined month in two ways: either as one lasting 28 days, which is how months were defined during the clinical trials that set dosing schedules for ADT, or as a calendar month lasting 31 days. ADT was deemed late if it was given after day 28 by the first definition or after day 32 by the second definition.
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Cancers Treated With Hormone Therapy
Hormone therapy is used to treat prostate and breast cancers that use hormones to grow. Hormone therapy is most often used along with other cancer treatments. The types of treatment that you need depend on the type of cancer, if it has spread and how far, if it uses hormones to grow, and if you have other health problems.
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