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April 5, 2008

Hormone Therapy Treatment - Help For Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer hormone therapy treatment is also known as androgen deprivation therapy (ADT). When dealing with prostate cancer and ways to treat it, you want to concentrate on reducing the levels of male hormones in the body. These hormones include testosterone and dihydrotestoterone. While not directly causing prostate cancer, the hormones stimulate the malignant cells to grow and multiply. Research has shown that by reducing the hormones that are produced by the testicles prostate cancer has shrunk in the gland or has slowed down in its growth.

Only the doctor can decide who will benefit the most from hormone therapy treatment. Patients who are not able to have prostate surgery or radiation treatment because the cancer has spread beyond the confines of the prostate are good candidates for hormone treatment therapy. Prostate cancer hormone therapy treatment can be used in addition to radiation therapy and also if there has been a re occurrence of the cancer.

Types of prostate cancer hormone therapy treatment

Orchiectomy - surgical castration - is actually a form of hormone therapy because by surgically removing the testicles you are removing the hormones that cause the stimulation of cancerous cell growth. This usually helps slow the growth and sometimes actually shrink the cancer. This procedure is done as outpatient surgery and for those patients who are concerned over how they will look after the surgery, artificial sacs that look and feel like natural testicles can be inserted into the scrotum as replacements. Side effects of this procedure include but are not limited to: reduced or absent libido and impotence; hot flashes; anaemia; loss of muscle mass; weight gain; fatigue; and depression. All of these side effects can be prevented and treated.

LHRH (luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone) analogs are an option over orchiectomy. Most men opt for this treatment even though it costs more and requires more frequent visits to the doctor. LHRH analogs lower testosterone levels without the need to remove the testicles. The analogs are implanted beneath the skin monthly or in multiple month doses. Popular medications include Lupron, Viadur, Eligard, Zoladex, and Trelstar. Hot flashes, osteoporosis, and side effects similar to those found with the surgical castration can be found in patients receiving these treatments. Occasionally a patient's testosterone levels will flare when these treatments are started and can be counteracted by anti-androgen medication.

LHRH antagonists, such as Plenaxis, work like the LHRH analogs, but they seem to work faster and do not cause the testosterone levels to increase and cause the tumour to suddenly grow. Less than 5% of patients have an allergic reaction to the use of the antagonists and it has been approved for use in men whose prostate cancer has advanced and cannot take other treatment and refuse surgery. The side effects are the same and this hormone therapy is administered in the doctor's office as injections in the buttocks.

Anti-androgens block the body's ability to respond to androgens. Androgens are also produced by the adrenal glands, although not in the same amount as what is produced by the testicles. This treatment is administered in the form of pills and is commonly combined with the other treatments. Doctors are actually testing the use of just anti-androgens in treating prostate cancer. Diarrhea, nausea, liver problems and tiredness are some of the side effects of the medication.

Controversies in hormone treatment therapy

As with all medical treatments and medication uses, there are some controversies surrounding prostate cancer hormone treatment therapy. There is a question as to the benefits of starting hormone therapy as soon as the cancer is detected or waiting until there is more clinical proof that it helps in early stages. Not all doctors believe in using the hormones continuously, citing that the patient's body could become resistant to the treatment.

Discover the latest ideas on hormone treatment for prostate cancer by visiting http://www.prostatefactfile.com. Find out about supplements for prostate health.

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