Hormonal therapy is used when the cancer’s growth is spurred by the absorption of naturally occurring hormones in the body. These cancers affect hormone-sensitive tissues such as the prostate or the breasts. In these cases, your doctor may decide to limit or block hormone production by administering certain drugs, or he or she may opt for removing the organs that produce the hormone feeding the cancer. Like chemotherapy, hormone therapy is effective against cancers that have spread throughout the body.
Some cancers need hormones to grow. Hormonal therapy keeps cancer cells from getting or using the hormones they need. It is systemic therapy.
Hormonal therapy uses drugs or surgery:
The doctor gives medicine that stops the production of certain hormones or prevents the hormones from working.
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, hormonal therapy may make menstrual periods stop or become irregular and may cause vaginal dryness. In men, hormonal therapy may cause impotence, loss of sexual desire, and breast growth or tenderness.