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Hormone Therapy continued...

How it works. There are two main ways to stop the body from making hormones. One is surgery to remove the organs that produce the hormones, such as the ovaries or testicles. More often, doctors prescribe drugs that stop the hormone from being made or block its effect.

Possible side effects. These depend on the specific treatment. Hot flashes are common. Some hormone therapy, such as aromatase inhibitors, may speed up bone loss.

Side effects of hormone therapy for prostate cancer can include:

  • Anemia
  • Weight gain
  • Loss of sex drive

Side effects of hormone therapy for breast cancer can include:

  • Blood clots
  • Uterine cancer

 

Bisphosphonates

This group of drugs works best in cases where metastasis is weakening the bone.

How it works. You receive bisphosphonates by IV infusion every 3 to 4 weeks. These drugs help with bone metastasis by:

  • Slowing bone damage and reducing the risk of bone fractures
  • Easing bone pain
  • Reducing high levels of calcium in the blood

Possible side effects. The most common ones include:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Anemia
  • Bone or joint pain

A rare and serious side effect is bone death (osteonecrosis) of the jaw. Ask your doctor about precautions to take before beginning this treatment. Osteonecrosis may cause:

  • Jaw bone pain, swelling, or numbness
  • Loss of gum tissue
  • Loose teeth
  • Infection

Another available treatment is denosumab (Xgeva). It's given by injection and may work as well as or better than bisphosphonates to prevent fractures. But it also can cause osteonecrosis, as well as low calcium levels in the blood.

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