Ways of giving hormonal therapy

Total androgen blockade

If the cancer starts to grow again while you are taking an LH or GnRH blocker, your doctor may suggest that you also take an anti-androgen tablet. This is called total androgen blockade. It is also known as complete or maximum androgen blockade.

The two drugs, together, can help slow down the growth or spread of the cancer. However, you may experience more side effects if you are taking two drugs.

Hormone-refractory prostate cancer

After some months or years, androgen blockade will begin to be less effective. This is sometimes called hormone-refractory prostate cancer or castration-refractory prostate cancer.

When this happens, your doctor may suggest a further hormone therapy drug or chemotherapy. They may also suggest other treatments to relieve your symptoms (palliative treatments).

Anti-androgen withdrawal response

If hormonal therapy with an anti-androgen drug has been given for some months or years and the cancer begins to grow again, stopping the anti-androgen drug may make the cancer shrink for a while. This is known as an anti-androgen withdrawal response and occurs in up to one in four men (25%) who stop anti-androgen therapy.

Intermittent hormonal therapy

Some men find the side effects of hormonal therapy very difficult to cope with. Intermittent hormonal therapy aims to reduce the impact of the side effects and improve quality of life.

Your doctors may suggest that you stop your treatment and have a break for a few months before starting treatment again. This helps to reduce the side effects. Your PSA levels will be monitored during the time you aren’t having treatment.

Intermittent hormonal therapy isn’t suitable for all men with advanced prostate cancer. And how well this approach works is still being researched. It appears to give similar results to continual hormone therapy, but with fewer side effects. Your doctor can discuss the advantages and disadvantages of it with you.

Back to Hormonal therapies explained

Types of hormonal therapy

There are different types of hormonal therapy used to treat advanced prostate cancer. You may have more than one type.

Subcapsular orchidectomy

Some men may have an operation to remove the part of the testicles that produces testosterone. This is a type of hormonal therapy for advanced prostate cancer.