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Hormone Therapy For Breast Cancer Pros And Cons

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If Cancer Comes Back Or Has Spread

Hormone replacement therapy and potential breast cancer risks

AIs, tamoxifen, and fulvestrant can be used to treat more advanced hormone-positive breast cancers, especially in post-menopausal women. They are often continued for as long as they are helpful. Pre-menopausal women might be offered tamoxifen alone or an AI in combination with an LHRH agonist for advanced disease.

Chemotherapy Hormone Therapy Targeted Therapy For Early

Chemotherapy, targeted therapies, and hormone therapy often are combined with surgery and radiation to treat breast cancer. That’s why medical oncologists at Duke work in close partnership with breast surgeons, radiation oncologists, and other breast cancer specialists. Our breast cancer doctors in Durham and Raleigh use the latest medical therapies available to treat your breast cancer and reduce your risk for recurrence.

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What Does External Beam Radiotherapy Involve

You will have your treatment at a hospital radiotherapy department. Youll see a specialist doctor who treats cancer with radiotherapy, known as a clinical oncologist. You may also see a specialist nurse and a specialist radiographer. Theyll talk to you about your treatment plan and ways to manage any side effects.

Before your radiotherapy treatment

Radiotherapy planning session

A week or two before your treatment, youll have a planning session. This is to make sure the radiographers know the exact position, size and shape of your prostate. It will help them make sure the radiotherapy is aimed at your prostate and that the surrounding areas get as little radiation as possible.

During your radiotherapy treatment

You will have one treatment at the hospital five days a week, with a rest over the weekend. You can go home after each treatment.

If you have localised prostate cancer, the course of radiotherapy usually involves 20 treatment sessions over four weeks. You might hear this called hypo-fractionated radiotherapy.

At some hospitals, youll have 37 sessions over seven or eight weeks instead. If you have 37 sessions, youll receive a slightly larger overall dose of radiotherapy but the dose you receive at each session will be lower than if you have 20 sessions.

Its safe for you to be around other people, including children and pregnant women, during your course of radiotherapy. The radiation doesnt stay in your body so you wont give off any radiation.

Also Check: Natural Ways To Balance Hormones

When Is Hormone Therapy Used For Breast Cancer

Hormone therapy is often used after surgery to help reduce the risk of the cancer coming back. Sometimes it is started before surgery .

It is usually taken for at least 5 years. Treatment longer than 5 years might be offered to women whose cancers have a higher chance of coming back. A test called the Breast Cancer Index might be used to help decide if a woman will benefit from more than 5 years of hormone therapy.

Hormone therapy can also be used to treat cancer that has come back after treatment or that has spread to other parts of the body.

What Is Hormone Therapy

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Hormone therapy slows or stops the growth of hormone-sensitive tumors by blocking the bodys ability to produce hormones or by interfering with effects of hormones on breast cancer cells. Tumors that are hormone insensitive do not have hormone receptors and do not respond to hormone therapy.

Hormone therapy for breast cancer should not be confused with menopausal hormone therapy treatment with estrogen alone or in combination with progesterone to help relieve symptoms of menopause. These two types of therapy produce opposite effects: hormone therapy for breast cancer blocks the growth of HR-positive breast cancer, whereas MHT can stimulate the growth of HR-positive breast cancer. For this reason, when a woman taking MHT is diagnosed with HR-positive breast cancer she is usually asked to stop that therapy.

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Less Common Types Of Hormone Therapy

Some other types of hormone therapy that were used more often in the past, but are rarely given now include:

  • Megestrol acetate , a progesterone-like drug
  • Androgens , like testosterone

These might be options if other forms of hormone therapy are no longer working, but they can often cause side effects.

What Types Of Hormone Therapy Are Used For Breast Cancer

Several strategies are used to treat hormone-sensitive breast cancer:

Blocking ovarian function: Because the ovaries are the main source of estrogen in premenopausal women, estrogen levels in these women can be reduced by eliminating or suppressing ovarian function. Blocking ovarian function is called ovarian ablation.

Ovarian ablation can be done surgically in an operation to remove the ovaries or by treatment with radiation. This type of ovarian ablation is usually permanent.

Alternatively, ovarian function can be suppressed temporarily by treatment with drugs called gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists, which are also known as luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone agonists. By mimicking GnRH, these medicines interfere with signals that stimulate the ovaries to produce estrogen.

Estrogen and progesterone production in premenopausal women. Drawing shows that in premenopausal women, estrogen and progesterone production by the ovaries is regulated by luteinizing hormone and luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone . The hypothalamus releases LHRH, which then causes the pituitary gland to make and secrete LH and follicle-stimulating hormone . LH and FSH cause the ovaries to make estrogen and progesterone, which act on the endometrium .

Examples of ovarian suppression drugs are goserelin and leuprolide .

Blocking estrogens effects: Several types of drugs interfere with estrogens ability to stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells:

Read Also: How Can You Tell If You Have Low Estrogen Levels

Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators

Selective estrogen receptor modulators including tamoxifen , raloxifene and toremifene selectively block estrogen from certain tissues, namely the breast, while increasing its availability in other areas such as the bones.

When and why theyre used: Doctors may recommend SERMs after surgery for early ER-positive breast cancer in men or women, to reduce the chances that it recurs. Theyre also approved to treat advanced breast cancer, and may be used to prevent breast cancer in high-risk individuals. Toremifene is only approved for advanced stage breast cancer that has spread.

Risks: In addition to more common side effects of hormone therapy such as hot flashes, tamoxifen risks may include blood clots, stroke, bone loss, mood changes, depression and loss of sex drive. Men who take tamoxifen may experience headaches, nausea, vomiting, rashes, impotence and loss of sex drive. Raloxifene may increase a patients chances of having a stroke or developing potentially fatal blood clots in the lungs or legs. Fortunately, these side effects are considered relatively rare. Have your doctor explain the potential side effects associated with each SERM when discussing the pros and cons of these medications with you.

Proton Beam Radiation Therapy

Breast Cancer and Hormone Replacement Therapy

Proton beam radiation uses beams of protons instead of X-rays. A proton is a particle with a positive electric charge that is in the nuclei of all atoms.

X-rays release energy both before and after they hit their target. But protons release their energy only after traveling a certain distance. So doctors think protons may be able to deliver more radiation directly to the treatment area while possibly doing less damage to nearby healthy tissue. But this is still being studied.

Right now, proton beam radiation is only being used in clinical trials to treat breast cancer. The machines needed to deliver protons are very expensive and are not widely available.

If youre interested in being treated with proton beam therapy, talk to your doctor to find a clinical trial that would be a good fit for your unique situation.

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Hormone Therapy For Breast Cancer Treatment At Home


Breastcancer is a type of cancer that develops in breast tissue. Some common signshelp you to identify that you are suffering from breast cancer are a lump inthe breast a change in breast shape, dimpling on the skin, fluid coming fromthe nipple, a newly inverted nipple, or a red or scaly patch of skin. Whilesuffering from prostate cancer you may also experience bone pain, swollen lymphnodded shortness of breath, or yellow skin.

Breastcancer risks factors for developing tumor include being female,obesity, a lack of physical exercise, and alcohols hormone replacement therapyduring menopause, ionizing radiation. Some other causes associated with womenbreast cancer is early menstruation or not having children at the right timeor getting pregnant late in life sometimes the family history of breast cancer also causes breast cancer.

There aremultiple medications are available for treatment but here we willdiscuss hormone therapy for breast cancer treatment.

What Is Hormone Replacement Therapy

Hormone replacement therapy uses bio-identical hormones like testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone to naturally re-balance your bodys hormone levels. At our professional office, we use an innovative pellet delivery system. The hormone pellets, which are about the size of a grain of rice, are inserted under the skin with a long, hollow needle.

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Determining The Right Breast Cancer Treatment For You

Many factors go into determining the right breast cancer treatment for your condition. These include the size of your tumor, the stage and type of breast cancer you have, an assessment of the genes that may be associated with your cancer, your age, whether cancer has spread to other parts of your body, and your risk for recurrence. Tests will determine if your breast cancer is hormone-receptor-positive, HER2-positive , or triple-negative.

The sequence of treatments is determined by your treatment team and can include a lumpectomy or mastectomy, medical treatment, and radiation treatment. Medical treatments can include chemotherapy, hormone therapy — which blocks hormones such as estrogen or progesterone that promote the growth of cancer cells — and targeted therapies, which tell the bodys immune system to target and destroy certain breast cancer cells.

Your medical oncologist will help you weigh the pros and cons of each treatment option to help guide your decision.

Da Vinci Robotic Prostatectomy/robotic

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Surgery is performed by a trained and skilled surgeon through the use of a computer-enhanced robotic surgical system positioned near the operating table. The Da Vinci Robotic surgical system is made up of three major components, which include a vision system with high magnification and resolution, robotic arms and instruments, and a console to provide the surgeon with a view of the operative field and control the instruments.

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Should I Take A Drug To Help Reduce My Breast Cancer Risk

The first step in deciding if you should take a drug to help lower your chances of getting breast cancer is to have a health care provider assess your breast cancer risk.

Most experts say that your breast cancer risk should be higher than average for you to consider taking one of these drugs. If you do have a higher-than-average risk, you need to compare the benefit of possibly reducing your chance of getting breast cancer with the risk of side effects and other problems from taking one of these drugs.

Benefitsof Hormone Therapy For Breast Cancer Treatment

Preventcancer from coming back

Reducesthe risk of developing tumors to other breast tissues or another organ

Slow orstop the growth of cancer that has spread

Reducethe size of a tumor before surgery.


Whileusing hormone therapy for breast disease you may have to experience some sideeffects and they are mentions below read them carefully.


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What Are The Risks Of Taking Hormone Therapy

While hormone therapy helps many women get through menopause, the treatment is not risk-free. Known health risks include:

  • An increased risk of endometrial cancer .
  • Increased risk of blood clots and stroke.
  • Increased chance of gallbladder/gallstone problems.
  • Increased risk of dementia if hormone therapy is started after midlife. HT started during midlife is associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimers disease and dementia.
  • Increased risk of breast cancer with long-term use.

What Is Hormone Receptor

Hormone Replacement (HRT) Pros and Cons… Risks and Benefits

Breast cancer tumors that are hormone receptor-positive need the hormones estrogen or progesterone to grow. Approximately 75% of breast cancers are hormone-positive in post-menopausal patients. Your healthcare provider will perform a biopsy and laboratory testing to determine the cancer type and most effective treatment.

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Thingsthat Stop The Body From Making Essentials Hormones

Whiletalking about hormone therapy for breast cancer your doctor may suggest aromatizingmedicines that can reduce the amount of estrogen in your body. Thesemedications are useful according to medical experts as it is also mentioned on mayo clinic websites you can read there.

Thesemedications are useful for those who undergo menopause symptoms or surgery to prevent estrogen that helping cancer cells to grow.

Youshould know all about hormone therapy before using them for breast cancertreatment. Holistic approaches are most useful for treating them without anysurgery or hormone pills. This system is scientific and tested for breastcancer to uterine cancer treatment without any surgery.

Ovary removal is another condition when your doctor will suggest you use aromatizeinhibitors to use but you should use power hormone for them because they helpyou surgery-free treatment for those types of women health-related issues.

Hormone Therapy Doesn’t Raise Risk For Breast Cancer Survivors Study Shows

Hormone replacement therapy for breast cancer survivors doesn’t appear to increase the risk of cancer recurrence or death, Danish researchers report.

Although HRT has previously been linked to a raised risk of breast cancer’s return, those earlier studies referred to oral HRT and not vaginal estrogen cream. The latest study, however, found no increase in the risk of recurrence or death for women getting either type of HRT.

“These findings should be reassuring that the use of HRT is not related to any major risks in the recurrence of breast cancer or risk of death for most women,” said lead researcher Dr. Soren Cold, from the department of oncology at Odense University Hospital.

For women taking aromatase inhibitors to lower estrogen levels, there is a small risk of recurrence, but no increased risk of death, he noted.

Cold added that while the study indicates short-term use of HRT for breast cancer patients appears safe, long-term use may be problematic.

In any case, he advises patients to have a detailed discussion with their doctor about using HRT.

“It’s something that you’ll have to discuss with your doctor because like all other treatments, there are pros and cons,” Cold said. “You cannot say it’s prohibited, but you have to discuss it strongly with your doctor.”

The report was published Wednesday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

More information

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How Long Does Hormone Therapy Take

How long hormone therapy, or breast cancer estrogen blocker medication, is given depends on several factors such as which hormones the patient has tested positive for, previous treatments, whether they are pre-menopausal or post-menopausal, and more. Taking a combination of the drugs can be more effective than just taking one. Talk with your oncologist about which drug you could benefit from.

For pre-menopausal women, this schedule often followed is:

  • AI plus a type of ovarian suppression for 5 to 10 years
  • Tamoxifen, with or without ovarian suppression for 5 to 10 years
  • Tamoxifen, with or without ovarian suppression for 5 years, then an AI for 5 years if menopause occurs throughout treatment

For women that are post-menopausal during treatment, below are some examples of a typical schedule:

  • AI for 5 to 10 years
  • AI for 2 to 3 years, followed by tamoxifen for 2 to 3 years
  • Tamoxifen for 2 to 3 years, then an AI for 2 to 3 years
  • Tamoxifen for 2 to 3 years, then an AI for 5 years
  • Tamoxifen for 4½ to 6 years, then an AI for 5 years
  • Tamoxifen for 5 to 10 years
  • For patients who are not eligible to for an AI, tamoxifen for 5 to 10 years can sometimes be an option

The higher the risk of the cancer returning post-treatment, the more likely that the patient will take hormone therapy drugs for longer than five years.

Possible Side Effects Of Ais

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The most common side effects of AIs are:

  • Bone and joint pain

AIs tend to have side effects different from tamoxifen. They don’t cause uterine cancers and very rarely cause blood clots. They can, however, cause muscle pain and joint stiffness and/or pain. The joint pain may be similar to a feeling of having arthritis in many different joints at one time. Options for treating this side effect include, stopping the AI and then switching to a different AI, taking a medicine called duloxetine , or routine exercise with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs . But the muscle and joint pain has led some women to stop treatment. If this happens, most doctors recommend using tamoxifen to complete 5 to 10 years of hormone treatment.

Because AIs drastically lower the estrogen level in women after menopause, they can also cause bone thinning, sometimes leading to osteoporosis and even fractures. If you are taking an AI, your bone density may be tested regularly and you may also be given bisphosphonates or denosumab , to strengthen your bones.

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Types Of Hormone Replacement Therapy

Estrogen-only hormone therapy and combination hormone therapy are the two main types of hormone replacement therapy. If you still have your uterus, your doctor will suggest combination therapy because progesterone reduces your risk of endometrial cancer.

If you have had a hysterectomy and no longer have a uterus, you typically will not need progesterone. This is important to know because taking estrogen alone has been shown to have fewer long-term risks compared to combination hormone therapy.

There are two ways a woman can receive hormone replacement therapy systemically or locally:

  • Systemic hormone therapy is mainly taken in a pill, injection, or patch. It works by releasing hormones into the bloodstream and reaching the organs and tissues that need them. This type of therapy can help systemic symptoms like hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and mood changes.
  • Local hormone therapy is a cream, ring, or suppository used on a localized area and doesnt get into the bloodstream. Its mainly used to help women suffering from vaginal dryness due to the loss of estrogen by rebuilding the vaginal lining and promoting lubrication. Fewer risks are associated with localized hormone therapy, but it does not help prevent or alleviate systemic symptoms like hot flashes.

here to get a closer look at the main hormones within a womans body and their important roles.

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