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Prostate Cancer Hormone Therapy  


The prostate is a walnut sized gland which is situated in the lower part of the intestine. It plays major role in the body which makes it indispensable to men life. But sometimes it can be affected by diseases, ranging from minor to serious conditions such as prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is a common and serious type of cancer that strikes men, mainly men over the age of fifty (50). The disease occurs in the prostate gland when a group of cells divide and grow uncontrollably to become malignant. Once the cancerous cells are found in the gland, treatment is required to prevent complications or death. There are many types of treatment for prostate cancer. Therapy (ies) adopted largely depend on the age of the patient and the stage of the cancer at diagnosis. Some of the common treatments for prostate cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy or combination of two or more. 


Hormonal Therapy 

A person suffering from prostate cancer is given hormones that suppress androgen, a male hormone.  These androgens are produced in the testicles and are responsible for causing the prostate cancer.  They are also the reason for the rapid and unleashed growth of cancer cells. The progression of the cancer cells can be reduced if the androgen levels are lowered. It is important to understand here that hormonal therapy only prevents the cancer cells from rapid multiplication and does not cures it completely.  It has to be combined with other therapies to completely remove the cancer from the patient’s body. 

Hormone Therapy can involve surgical therapy and the use of medications. Common techniques and drugs used to reduce androgen levels include:


Orchiectomy: This method involves surgical intervention to remove the testicles of the diseased person. These testicles are responsible for the secretion of the androgen which is needed by prostate cancer cells to continue growing; hence their removal will slow down the process of cancer growth. Common complications or side effects of orchiectomy include:

  • Sterility   
  • Hot flashes  
  • Weight gain  
  • Loss of sexual interest 
  • Erectile dysfunction  
  • Gynecomastia (enlarged breastsin men)  
  • Loss of muscle mass  
  • Osteoporosis(Thin or brittle bones).  

Gonadotropin-releasing Hormone Analogue (GnRH analogue): Also called luteinizing hormone releasing hormone agonist (LHRH agonist) or LHRH analogue, this method consists of injecting the LH RH analogues in small portions under the skin. Normally these injections are given every one, three, four, six, or twelve months. Lupron, Eligard, Viadur, Trelstar and Zoladex are the most commonly used LH RH analogues. This method is preferred over orchiectomy.

Estrogen:  The estrogen hormone is injected inside the patient.  However not many prostate cancer victims prefer this treatment as estrogen is a female hormone which can alter the masculine personality of the person to a feminine one. 

Anti Androgen:  Anti androgens are pills that bring down the action of the androgens.  The commonly used anti androgens are casodex, Nilandron (Nilutamide) and eulexin.  This treatment is normally combined with orchiectomy. 

Hormone Therapy Side effects 

Hormone Therapy can be very useful in combatting prostate malignancy, but it comes with several adverse reactions.  Some common side effects in case of LH RH and Orchiectomy include: 

  • Impotence 
  • Hot Flashes
  • Anemia 
  • Weight gain 
  • Reduced or no sexual desire
  • Fatigue 
  • Reduction in the good cholesterol 

The side effects of Anti androgen treatment: 

  • Nausea 
  • Liver problem 
  • Diarrhea
  • Tiredness.

Most of these side effects can be cured or reduced soon after the hormone therapy is over.


Limitations of Hormonal Therapy in Prostate Cancer 


Despite being a beneficial and favorable treatment for prostate cancer patients, hormone therapy has few limitations which include: 

  • It has a lower prostate cancer-specific success rate 
  • It works better in conjunction to other treatments, especially radiation therapy 
  • The deprivation of androgen through this therapy augments the risk of stroke, diabetes, and even death 
  • Since majority of prostate cancer patients are aged or ageing, any alteration in body’s hormones may have a favorable effect on prostate cancer, but may leave patient suffering from other health complications.