How hormonal therapies can affect your diabetes

Hormones are substances produced naturally in the body. They act as chemical messengers and influence the growth and activity of cells. Hormones are produced by a number of different organs and glands, which together are known as the endocrine system.

Hormonal therapies work by changing the production or activity of particular hormones in the body. They are most commonly used to treat breast cancer and prostate cancer. There are several different types of hormonal therapy. They are usually given as tablets or injections. Treatment is often given for a number of years.

How hormonal therapy can affect your diabetes

Some hormonal therapy drugs can increase your blood sugar level. This means you will need to check your blood sugar levels more often. Sometimes, you may need to change your insulin or tablet dose. Your diabetes team will monitor you during treatment and can discuss this with you.

The following hormonal therapy drugs can affect your blood sugar:

  • cyproterone acetate (Cyprostat®)
  • degarelix (Firmagon®)
  • diethylstilboestrol (Stilboestrol®)
  • goserelin (Zoladex®) – when given to men
  • leuprorelin acetate (Prostap®)
  • medroxyprogesterone acetate (Provera®)
  • megestrol acetate (Megace®)
  • triptorelin (Decapeptyl®, Gonapeptyl Depot®).

If you don’t already have diabetes, there is a small risk of developing it when taking some hormonal therapy drugs. Usually the benefits of the hormonal therapy outweigh the risk of diabetes. Your doctor or specialist nurse can talk to you about this.

If you don’t have diabetes but develop any of its symptoms while having hormonal therapy, talk to your doctor.