Heres What The Results Showed
After a median follow-up of just over 10 years, 9.7% of men who were treated with radiation and leuporelin for 18 months had died from prostate cancer, compared to 13.3% of the men treated with radiation and leuporelin for six months. Adding zoledronic acid made no difference in either case.
The authors concluded that hormonal therapy is more effective at preventing prostate cancer death when its given for 18 months rather than six. And similar benefits were noted for other endpoints as well. For instance, prostate tumors were less likely to metastasize, or spread, among men in the longer duration treatment group, and it took longer for their cancers to become resistant to hormone therapy if it was reinitiated later.
In earlier clinical research, scientists discovered that hormonal therapy given for three years protects against prostate cancer death more effectively than a six-month treatment regimen. But three years of hormone therapy isnt easily tolerated, and evidence so far shows that 10-year survival rates after either 18 months or three years of hormonal therapy are similar, the authors of the new study claim.
About the Author
Charlie Schmidt, Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases
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 .
Can Hormone Therapy Cure My Prostate Cancer
No, hormone therapy cannot cure your prostate cancer. The goal of hormone therapy is to stop or slow the growth of the prostate cancer cells in your body. Hormone therapy can shrink prostate cancer tumors and may stop or limit the spread of your prostate cancer. Hormone therapy is used to control your prostate cancer.
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Treatment To Lower Testicular Androgen Levels
Androgen deprivation therapy, also called ADT, uses surgery or medicines to lower the levels of androgens made by the testicles.
Even though this is a type of surgery, its main effect is as a form of hormone therapy. In this operation, the surgeon removes the testicles, where most of the androgens are made. This causes most prostate cancers to stop growing or shrink for a time.
This is done as an outpatient procedure. It is probably the least expensive and simplest form of hormone therapy. But unlike some of the other treatments, it is permanent, and many men have trouble accepting the removal of their testicles. Because of this, they may choose treatment with drugs that lower hormone levels instead.
Some men having this surgery are concerned about how it will look afterward. If wanted, artificial testicles that look much like normal ones can be inserted into the scrotum.
Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone agonists are drugs that lower the amount of testosterone made by the testicles. Treatment with these drugs is sometimes called medical castration because they lower androgen levels just as well as orchiectomy.
With these drugs, the testicles stay in place, but they will shrink over time, and they may even become too small to feel.
- Leuprolide mesylate
Possible side effects
Many side effects of hormone therapy can be prevented or treated. For example:
Breast Cancer Test Receives Lcd
GenomeDx describes Decipher as a unique genomic test intended for men who have had prostate surgery and are considered by guidelines to be at high risk for their cancer returning. It is designed for men with specific risk factors for cancer recurrence, including positive surgical margins, stage T3 disease , or rising PSA after an initial drop-off.3On October 15, 2014, BioTheranostics announced that it had received a positive local coverage determination from Palmetto GBA for its Breast Cancer Index, or BCI, test, a gene expression test that assesses risk during the following periods:
- In the first 5 years after diagnosis
- Late recurrence beyond 5 years after diagnosis
- Overall 10-year risk
In a statement, BioTheranostics said that the draft Medicare language calls for covering BCI to predict risk of late distant recurrence in women with early stage, estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer who are considering extended therapy but are concerned about continuing anti-hormonal therapy because of documented toxicity or possible significant patient-specific side effects.
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How To Tell If Hormone Therapy Is Working
If you are taking hormone therapy for prostate cancer, you will have regular PSA tests. If hormone therapy is working, your PSA levels will stay the same or may even go down. But, if your PSA levels go up, this may be a sign that the treatment is no longer working. If this happens, your doctor will discuss treatment options with you.
If you are taking hormone therapy for breast cancer, you will have regular check-ups. Checkups usually include an exam of the neck, underarm, chest, and breast areas. You will have regular mammograms, though you probably wont need a mammogram of a reconstructed breast. Your doctor may also order otherimaging procedures or lab tests.
Advising The Patient About Hormonal Therapy
Finally, Mark Moyad, MD, Director of Complementary and Preventive Medicine, University of Michigan, Department of Urology and Oncology, delivered an excellent discussion of the 10 steps he takes in advising patients about initiation of androgen deprivation therapy. Step 1 is to introduce patients to the common and less common side effects of androgen deprivation therapy . Step 2 is to introduce the patient to moderate, practical, and realistic dietary and lifestyle changes that promote general health during the androgen deprivation therapy. Dr. Moyad stated that recommendations for cardiovascular well-being extrapolate well to provide benefit to patients receiving androgen deprivation therapy. Step 3 is to emphasize that when it comes to over-the-counter supplements and other alternative approaches, less is more. He emphasized that some of these agents might have adverse effects on surgery or radiation therapy and that patients should discontinue these agents at least 1 week before definitive treatment. Step 4 is to remind patients that there might be dyslipidemia associated with androgen deprivation therapy patients should be told, know your lipid levels as well as your PSA.
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How Does Hormone Therapy Work
Hormone therapy for prostate cancer works by either preventing the body from making these androgens or by blocking their effects. Either way, the hormone levels drop, and the cancer’s growth slows.
“Testosterone and other hormones are like fertilizer for cancer cells,” Holden tells WebMD. “If you take them away, the cancer goes into shock, and some of the cells die.”
In 85% to 90% of cases of advanced prostate cancer, hormone therapy can shrink the tumor.
However, hormone therapy for prostate cancer doesn’t work forever. The problem is that not all cancer cells need hormones to grow. Over time, these cells that aren’t reliant on hormones will spread. If this happens, hormone therapy won’t help anymore, and your doctor will need to shift to a different treatment approach.
Hormone Therapy For The Treatment Of Prostate Cancer Patients
Hormone therapy, also known as androgen deprivation therapy or androgen suppression therapy, is one of the treatment options for patients with prostate cancer. The goal is to reduce levels of male hormones, called androgens, in the body, or to stop them from affecting prostate cancer cells, explains the American Cancer Society. It is particularly indicated in patients whose cancer has spread too far to be cured by surgery or radiation, or when patients cant undergo these treatments for some reason, in patients whose cancer is resistant to or returns after previous treatments, as well as in combination or before radiation therapy to increase the probabilities of success.
The main androgens are testosterone and dihydrotestosterone . Most of the bodys androgens come from the testicles, but the adrenal glands also make a small amount. Androgens stimulate prostate cancer cells to grow. Lowering androgen levels or stopping them from getting into prostate cancer cells often makes prostate cancers shrink or grow more slowly for a time. But hormone therapy alone does not cure prostate cancer.
There are different approaches included in the class of hormone therapy such as orchiectomy , luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone analogs, Degarelix , Abiraterone , which are used to decrease the androgen levels. Anti-androgens like flutamide , bicalutamide , nilutamide , Enzalutamide , Estrogens , and Ketoconazole are used to block the function of androgens.
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Optimal Duration Of Hormone Therapy With Radiation For Localized Prostate Cancer
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Treatment Issues With Hormone Therapy For Prostate Cancer
Hormone therapy is not a cure-all for treating prostate cancer. Side effects can be life-altering as well as physically and emotionally draining.
In addition to side effects, the positive impact of hormone therapy on androgen suppression can fade when a person becomes resistant to it. In some instances, this may mean that hormone therapy should be withheld during early-stage treatment or in people with low-risk prostate cancer.
Currently, there is no medical consensus on when hormone therapy should start. Some doctors believe that early treatment may be beneficial for halting disease progression and prolonging life. Others feel that waiting makes more sense for at least some of their patients.
You and your healthcare provider can decide together if hormone therapy is your best option, or if active surveillance or watchful waiting are better choices for early-stage prostate cancer. Active surveillance refers to consistent cancer monitoring that includes PSA blood tests and other tests.
Watchful waiting relies more on observing changes in symptoms, plus intermittent testing. For people with slow-growing cancers that may not spread, these strategies may be beneficial for maintaining quality of life, with no sexual or other side effects.
Intermittent hormone therapy administration is sometimes based on PSA level drops. Studies have not yet proven conclusively which approach is most beneficial.
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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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Another type of prostate issue is chronic prostatitis, or chronic pelvic pain syndrome. This condition causes pain in the lower back and groin area, and may cause urinary retention. Symptoms include leaking and discomfort. In severe cases, a catheter may be required to relieve the symptoms. If the problem is unresponsive to other treatments, your doctor may suggest a surgical procedure. If these do not work, your symptoms could progress and become chronic.
An acute bacterial infection can cause a burning sensation. Inflammation of the prostate can affect the bladder and result in discomfort and other symptoms. This is the most common urinary tract problem in men under 50, and the third most common in men over 65. The symptoms of acute bacterial prostatitis are similar to those of CPPS. Patients may experience a fever or chills as a result of the infection.
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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.
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What Are Estrogen And Progesterone Receptors
Normal breast cells and some breast cancer cells contain receptors that attach to estrogen and progesterone. These 2 hormones often fuel the growth of breast cancer cells. An important step in evaluating a breast cancer is to test the cancer removed during the biopsy to see if it has estrogen and progesterone receptors.
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What Type Of Hormone Therapy Works Best
Unfortunately, understanding the details of hormone therapy for prostate cancer can be difficult. Which drug or combination of drugs works best? In what order should they be tried? Research hasn’t answered these questions yet.
“Right now, there’s a level of art to figuring out which agents to use,” says Durado Brooks, MD, MPH, director of prostate cancer programs at the American Cancer Society. “We don’t have clear evidence yet.”
LHRH agonists remain the usual first treatment. But in some cases, doctors are trying anti-androgens first. Anti-androgens may be especially appealing to younger men who are still sexually active, since these drugs don’t completely shut down sex drive. When anti-androgens stop working — based on PSA tests — a person then might shift onto an LHRH agonist.
Other doctors prefer to begin therapy with a combination of two or even three drugs, especially for patients with symptoms or advanced disease, says Holden.
Researchers originally hoped that combined androgen blockade would significantly add to the benefits of LHRH agonists. However, the results, to date, have been mixed. Some studies have shown slightly longer survival with combined androgen blockade, but the results haven’t been as dramatic as many experts had hoped. Other studies have shown no benefit. A possible explanation may be the type of anti-androgen used, but further studies are needed to answer this question.
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Therapies That Interfere With Androgen Function
Taken daily as pills, antiandrogens bind to the androgen receptor proteins in the prostate cells, preventing the androgens from functioning. In addition to preventing a flare reaction, antiandrogens may be added to your treatment plan if an orchiectomy, LHRH agonist or LHRH antagonist is no longer working by itself. Commonly prescribed antiandrogens include flutamide and bicalutamide .
Enzalutamide is a newer type of antiandrogen that blocks the signal that the receptor normally sends to the cells control center to trigger growth and division. This antiandrogen may be used to treat castration-resistant prostate cancer.
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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