Checking Your Hormone Therapy Is Working
Youll have regular blood tests to check the level of a protein called prostate specific antigen . PSA is a protein made by both normal and cancerous prostate cells. It is in the blood in small amounts in all men, unless they have had their prostate gland completely removed.
While the hormone therapy is working, the level of PSA should stay stable or may go down. But if prostate cancer cells are starting to grow and develop, the level of PSA may go up. Then your doctor may need to change your treatment. They will discuss this with you.
What Are Prostate Cancer Survival Rates By Stage
Staging evaluation is essential for the planning of treatment for prostate cancer.
- A basic staging evaluation includes the patient examination, blood tests, and the prostate biopsy including ultrasound images of the prostate.
- Further testing and calculations may be performed to best estimate a patient’s prognosis and help the doctor and patient decide upon treatment options.
Prognosis refers to the likelihood that the cancer can be cured by treatment, and what the patient’s life expectancy is likely to be as a consequence of having had a prostate cancer diagnosis.
If a cancer is cured, your life expectancy is what it would have been had you never been diagnosed with prostate cancer. If the cancer cannot be cured due to it recurring in distant locations as metastases, or recurs either locally or in an area no longer able to be treated in a curative manner, then estimates can be made of what is likely to be your survival based again on group statistics for people who have been in the same situation.
Nomograms are charts or computer-based tools that use complex math from analysis of many patients’ treatment results.
The prognosis for prostate cancer varies widely, and depends on many factors, including the age and health of the patient, the stage of the tumor when it was diagnosed, the aggressiveness of the tumor, and the cancer’s responsiveness to treatment, among other factors.
How Can I Lower My Testosterone With Surgery
The majority of the testosterone in your body is made by your testicles. You can lower your testosterone with an operation called an orchiectomy. An orchiectomy is a simple and effective way to lower the amount of testosterone in your body. However, it is a permanent form of hormone therapy.
Before your orchiectomy, you will be given anesthesia. Anesthesia is a medicine given to you by an anesthesiologist so that you do not feel pain during your operation. An anesthesiologist is the doctor who gives you medicine to make you sleep during the surgery and who carefully watches you during the operation. Your doctor will make a small cut in your scrotum and remove your testicles. Most men who have an orchiectomy go home the same day of their surgery. Your penis and scrotum, the pouch of skin that holds your testicles, will not be damaged during this operation. It will take you about two weeks to heal from the surgery.
Some men are concerned about how their body will look after their testicles are removed. There are testicular prostheses , or artificial testicles, that can be placed in your scrotum to replace the testicles removed during your surgery. The prostheses make your scrotum look like it did before surgery. If youare concerned about how your body will look, speak with your doctor or health care team about artificial testicles.
Possible side effects
More hormone treatment
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 many 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.
How Might I Feel During Hormone Therapy
Nearly all men being treated for prostate cancer say that they feel emotionally upset at different times during their hormone therapy. It’s not unusual to feel anxious, depressed, afraid, angry, frustrated, alone, or helpless. Hormone therapy may affect your emotions because it lowers the amount of testosterone in your body.
Some men find it helps to learn about their disease and treatment because it makes them less afraid of their treatment. Find out as much as you want to know. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Your emotional health is as important as your physical health.
Talking with an understanding friend, relative, minister or another patient may be helpful. Your doctors office may be able to give you a list of local prostate cancer support groups. There will be men in the support groups who have had hormone therapy. You may also contact the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 or the National Cancer Institutes Cancer Information Line at 1-800-422-6237 to find out about cancer resources in your local community.
Many people don’t understand prostate cancer or its treatment. They may stay away from you because they’re not sure what to say or how to help. Try to be open when you talk to other people about your illness, treatment, needs, and feelings. People will often be willing to lend their support. If you get tired easily, limit your activities and do only the things that mean the most to you.
Also Check: How Do They Test For Prostate Infection
The Future Of Hormone Therapy For Prostate Cancer
Some experts aren’t sure how much further we can improve hormone therapy for prostate cancer.
“I’m not saying that we’ve reached the end of what we can do with hormonal therapy,” Thrasher tells WebMD, “but there are only so many ways to shut down the hormonal effects. The cancer will still eventually escape.”
Brooks argues that, overall, prostate cancer is only moderately affected by hormones. “You can only do so much manipulating the levels of hormones,” says Brooks. “We have to find better ways to fight the basis of the cancer cells.”
Thrasher and Brooks have more hope that the next breakthroughs will come with different approaches, like chemotherapy or vaccines.
But Holden remains optimistic about the future of hormone therapy for prostate cancer.
“Cancer cells eventually figure out how to survive, how to overcome a specific hormone therapy,” he says. “But if we have enough types of drugs and can keep changing the hormone therapy, we might be able to keep the cancer cells in a state of confusion. We could change therapies before they have a chance to adapt.”
“It’s like an endless chess game,” he says. “You may not ever win, but you might be able to prolong the game indefinitely. I think that hormone therapy still has a lot of promise. We just need to develop better anti-androgens, and more varieties of them.”
Swelling Bruising Or Tenderness Of The Scrotum
Symptoms generally resolve on their own within three to five days. Oral anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen are usually sufficient for pain relief, if necessary. You should avoid hot tubs and Jacuzzis for at least two to three days after the procedure. Postpone bike riding until the tenderness is gone.
Read Also: How To Have A Prostate Orgasim
Will Side Effects Limit What I Can Do
What you are able to do will depend on which side effects you have and how bad they are. Many men are able to work, cook meals, and enjoy their usual daily activities when they have hormone therapy for their prostate cancer. Other men find that they need more rest than before they started hormone therapy so they cant do as much. You should try to keep doing the things you enjoy as long as you don’t get too tired.
When Does Hormone Therapy Fail For Prostate Cancer
Cancer cells are smart. When faced with a continuous stressor such as chemotherapy or hormone therapy, they eventually evolve and learn evasive maneuvers. When prostate cancer cells grow resistant or become insensitive to hormone therapy, the cancer is referred to as hormone refractory.
Hormone therapy may work to treat prostate cancer for many years. However, its only a temporary fix because eventually, the cancer becomes resistant. The risk of resistance goes up if the cancer has taken hold for a long time or if it has relapsed.
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How Are Hormone Therapy Medicines Used
Hormone therapy medicines may be used alone, with another type of hormone therapy, or with another type of prostate cancer treatment.
Monotherapy is when only one type of hormone therapy medicine is used to lower the amount of testosterone in your body. Monotherapy can be effective in shrinking a prostate cancer tumor, slowing the spread of your prostate cancer, and relieving pain caused by your prostate cancer. Monotherapy may be used with neoadjuvant therapy or adjuvant therapy. Please read When is Hormone Therapy Used for Prostate Cancer? to learn more about neoadjuvant and adjuvant therapy.
How Might Hormone Therapy Make Me Feel
Hormone therapy itself can affect your mood.;You may find that you feel more emotional than usual or just different to how you felt before. Some men find that they cry a lot. You may also get mood swings, such as getting tearful and then angry. Just knowing that these feelings are caused by hormone therapy can help.
Everyones different some men are surprised by the side effects and how upsetting they find them.;Others have fewer symptoms or are not as worried by them.
Some of the other side effects of hormone therapy are hard to come to terms with. Physical changes, such as putting on weight, or changes to your sex life, might make you feel very different about yourself.;Some men say they feel less masculine because of their diagnosis and treatment.
If youre starting hormone therapy very soon after being diagnosed with prostate cancer, you might still feel upset, shocked, frightened or angry about having cancer. These feelings are normal, and it’s okay to feel this way.
Things in your day-to-day life can change because of the hormone therapy. Your relationships with your partner, family and friends might change. Or you might be too tired to do some of the things you used to do.
Some men experience low moods, anxiety or depression. This could be directly caused by the hormone therapy itself, or because you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer. It could also be due to the impact that treatment is having on you and your family.
What can help?
Talking about it
Also Check: What Is The Definition Of Prostate Gland
How Is Prostate Cancer Staged
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer that develops in men and is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in American men, behind lung cancer and just ahead of colorectal cancer. The prognosis for prostate cancer, as with any cancer, depends on how advanced the cancer has become, according to established stage designations.
The prostate gland is a walnut-sized gland present only in men, found in the pelvis below the bladder. The prostate gland wraps around the urethra and lies in front of the rectum. The prostate gland secretes part of the liquid portion of the semen, or seminal fluid, which carries sperm made by the testes. The fluid is essential to reproduction.
The term to stage a cancer means to describe the evident extent of the cancer in the body at the time that the cancer is first diagnosed.
- Clinical staging of prostate cancer is based on the pathology results, physical examination, PSA, and if appropriate, radiologic studies.
- The stage of a cancer helps doctors understand the extent of the cancer and plan cancer treatment.
- Knowing the overall results of the different treatments of similarly staged prostate cancers can help the doctor and patient make important decisions about choices of treatment to recommend or to accept.
How Will I Know That My Hormone Therapy Is Working
Doctors cannot predict how long hormone therapy will be effective in suppressing the growth of any individual mans prostate cancer. Therefore, men who take hormone therapy for more than a few months are regularly tested to determine the level of PSA in their blood. An increase in PSA level may indicate that a mans cancer has started growing again. A PSA level that continues to increase while hormone therapy is successfully keeping androgen levels extremely low is an indicator that a mans prostate cancer has become resistant to the hormone therapy that is currently being used.;
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Why Is A Simple Prostatectomy Performed
There are varying degrees of prostate enlargement.
If your prostate grows only slightly, many minimally-invasive surgeries can remove part of the gland, such as transurethral resection of the prostate .
However, if your prostate becomes very large , your surgeon will need to perform a simple prostatectomy. This involves removing the inner core of your prostate gland. Most men who undergo this type of surgery are age 60 or older.
Special diets, changes in drinking habits, and medications are often tried before surgery is recommended.
Your doctor may recommend a simple prostatectomy if your prostate is very large and you are suffering from:
- extremely slow urination
Recommended Reading: What Causes A Swollen Prostate
Hormone Therapy And Prostate Cancer
The following information is based on the general experiences of many prostate cancer patients. Your experience may be different. If you have any questions about what prostate cancer treatment services are covered by your health insurance, please contact your health care provider or health insurance provider. This education material was made possible by a Grant from the California Department of Justice, Antitrust Law Section, from litigation settlement funds to benefit Californians diagnosed with cancer or their families.
Recommended Reading: How Is Prostate Surgery Performed
Table 2: Boosting The Effectiveness Of Radiation Therapy
A randomized controlled study involving 206 men with early-stage prostate cancer evaluated whether adding six months of hormone therapy to external-beam radiation treatment would boost both overall survival and disease-free survival . The results are given below. The same research group found, in an earlier study, that the addition of hormone therapy was of most benefit to men who were considered at moderate or high risk, based on their clinical profile.
Five-year follow-up 82% Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, 2004;292:8217. PMID: 15315996.
Combined with radiation therapy. A number of studies have shown that men with early-stage prostate cancer are more likely to be cured when hormone therapy is given in conjunction with radiation therapy . Even when the disease is regionally advanced, meaning that it has progressed to tissues immediately surrounding the prostate gland, neoadjuvant hormone therapy reduces risk of progression and relapse .
When Hormone Therapy Stops Working
After some months or years the hormone treatment usually stops working;and the cancer starts to grow again. Your doctor might recommend stopping or changing hormone treatment at this stage.
If you’re having anti androgens and your PSA level has started to rise again your doctor might get you to stop taking them. In some cases this can cause the cancer to shrink and stop growing for some time. This is called anti androgen withdrawal response .
There are different treatment options for when hormone therapy stops working, such as chemotherapy or steroids.
Read Also: Is An Enlarged Prostate Serious
Who Gets Prostate Cancer And What Are The Symptoms
Approximately one in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society.1 The average age at diagnosis is around 66 years. Common symptoms of prostate cancer can include frequent urination, blood in the urine, sudden onset of erectile dysfunction and discomfort when sitting due to an enlarged prostate gland. Risk factors for prostate cancer include being 65 years or older, having a family history of prostate cancer and certain genetic factors.
This is a cancer that, for some, is slow-growing and doesnt need immediate treatment. It may lay dormant for years. For others, a combination of surgery, radiation, or hormone-blocking therapies may be necessary.
Treating Prostate Cancer with Hormone Therapy
Men with prostate cancer often receive hormone-blocking therapy as part of their treatment plan. Approximately 75 percent of men undergoing this treatment will experience hot flashes. Hot flashes are one of the most common side effects of hormonal therapy, which lowers testosterone and androgens.
Hot flashes and night sweats can be very disruptive to a persons quality of life; affecting sleep, sexual function, weight, and mood. Recently, the Oncology Nursing Society released new guidelines to help patients mitigate these issues.2
New Guidelines for Treatment For Hot Flashes Caused by Hormone Therapy
Life After Prostate Cancer
~Lauren Evoy Davis