Hormone therapy for prostate cancer is also known as
androgen deprivation therapy (ADT).
Prostate cancer cannot grow or survive without
androgens, which include
testosterone and other male hormones. Hormone therapy
decreases the amount of androgens in a man's body. Reducing androgens can slow
the growth of the cancer and even shrink the tumor.
Hormone therapy may be used along with radiation treatment when there is a
high risk of the cancer returning. Or hormone therapy may be used after surgery
or radiation if any cancer remains.
Prostate cancer rarely involves a single treatment. It may involve several therapies as well as many health care professionals from different specialties to decide the best treatment options, timing, and dosage. Also, the complications and side effects of prostate cancer may require attention from different experts.
Hormone therapy may also help men who have
cancer that has spread and who cannot have surgery or radiation. It may be used when prostate cancer has spread outside the prostate (metastatic disease). In these cases, hormone therapy reduces pain and helps men live a little longer.1
Hormone therapy may be used to suppress prostate cancer cells, which is reflected in lower levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA).
Hormone therapy may also be used as the main treatment for prostate cancer instead of surgery or radiation. But hormone therapy doesn't seem to help men ages 66 and older who have localized prostate cancer. These men live just as long with active surveillance.2
Taking medicines is one way
to reduce androgens. Another way, used much less often, is surgery to remove
the testicles, also known as an orchiectomy.
GnRH antagonists. These drugs stop the body from making testosterone. They work right away. And they avoid the flare caused by GnRH agonists, which can make symptoms worse for several weeks. One GnRH antagonist is degarelix (Firmagon).
Androgen inhibitors. These are medicines that block enzymes that the body needs to make testosterone. They include enzalutamide (Xtandi), ketoconazole, and abiraterone (Zytiga), which is given along with prednisone.
drugs often are used along with LH-RH agonists. Antiandrogens help block the
body's supply of testosterone. There are steroidal antiandrogens and "pure"
antiandrogens. The steroidal antiandrogens include megestrol (Megace). The
"pure" or nonsteroidal antiandrogens include bicalutamide (Casodex), flutamide, and nilutamide (Nilandron).
Orchiectomy. This surgery is considered to be hormone
therapy. This is because removing the testicles, where more than 90% of the
body's androgens are made, decreases testosterone levels. Removing the
testicles may be the simplest way to reduce androgen levels, but it is permanent.