Some cancers need hormones to grow. Hormone therapy keeps cancer cells from getting or using the hormones they need. It is systemic therapy.
Hormone therapy uses drugs or surgery:
Drugs: The doctor gives medicine that stops the production of certain hormones or prevents the hormones from working.
Surgery: The surgeon removes organs (such as the ovaries or testicles) that make hormones.
The side effects of hormone therapy depend on the type of therapy. They include weight gain, hot flashes, nausea, and changes in fertility. In women, hormone therapy may make menstrual periods stop or become irregular and may cause vaginal dryness. In men, hormone therapy may cause impotence, loss of sexual desire, and breast growth or tenderness.
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References in this section:
Adapted from the National Cancer Institute's PDQ Database: http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/types/hormone-therapy. (Accessed July 2016)