Hormones help to control how cells grow and what they do in the body. The hormones oestrogen and progesterone can encourage some breast cancer cells to grow (particularly oestrogen).
Hormonal therapies reduce the level of oestrogen in the body or prevent it from attaching to the cancer cells. They only work for women with oestrogen-receptor positive cancers.
You may have hormonal therapy to reduce the risk of breast cancer coming back and to protect your other breast. You’ll usually take hormonal therapy for a number of years.
Your cancer specialist will start your hormonal therapy after surgery or after chemotherapy, if you have it. Sometimes doctors prescribe hormonal therapy before surgery to shrink a large cancer, which may mean you avoid having a mastectomy.
The type of hormonal therapy you have depends on:
- whether you’ve been through the menopause or not
- the risk of the cancer coming back
- how the side effects are likely to affect you.
We have information about individual hormonal therapy drugs.