Hormone Therapy for Prostate Cancer (Androgen Deprivation Therapy, or ADT) - Topic Overview
Timing of hormone therapy
Research does not clearly show whether starting hormone therapy before symptoms appear allows men to live longer than if they waited until after symptoms appear to start taking medicine.3 Men who start hormone therapy almost always stay on it for the rest of their lives. So waiting until symptoms appear may allow men to delay the serious side effects of hormone therapy.
Alternatives to conventional hormone therapy
- Intermittent androgen deprivation (IAD). This involves cycles of hormone therapy medicines. Taking breaks during hormone therapy gives men the chance to recover their ability to function sexually. It also gives relief from the other side effects of hormone therapy, including hot flashes and the effects on energy as well as bone and muscle mass. The long-term survival outcome of IAD compared to conventional ADT is not yet known.
- Antiandrogen monotherapy. Antiandrogens are medicines that block the action of androgens in the body. Antiandrogen monotherapy means taking antiandrogens without other hormone medicines.
Side effects of hormone therapy
The side effects of hormone therapy increase with the length of time that a man uses this therapy. Some of the side effects from hormone therapy will go away when a man who is taking medicine finishes his hormone therapy. For a man who has an orchiectomy, the side effects of sterility and loss of sexual interest are immediate and permanent.
Side effects of hormone therapy may include:
Other side effects may include hot flashes, erection problems and reduced sex drive, breast enlargement, and cognitive impairment. Some men may experience depression.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems).
Long-term side effects of hormone therapy
The long-term side effects of hormone therapy, even for men taking medicine, are not known. But hormone therapy has been linked to a higher risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and a shorter life span.3
One large study found that hormone therapy appears to be linked to a higher risk of death from heart problems in men who had surgery for localized prostate cancer.4