Diabetes and hormonal therapy

Some hormonal therapy drugs can increase your blood sugar level. These drugs are often used to treat breast cancer and prostate cancer.

How hormonal therapy can affect your diabetes

Hormones are produced naturally in the body. They affect the growth and activity of cells.

Hormonal therapy works by changing the production or activity of some hormones in the body. It is most commonly used to treat breast cancer and prostate cancer. There are different types of hormonal therapy. They are usually given as tablets or injections. You often have hormonal therapy for a few years.

Some hormonal therapy drugs can increase your blood sugar level. Your cancer doctor, nurse or pharmacist will explain if the treatment you are having may affect your blood sugars.
These drugs include:

Other types of treatment called octreotide and lanreotide may also affect blood sugar level. They are used to treat neuroendocrine tumours. They can cause both high and low blood sugar levels.

Your blood sugars usually go back to normal after the hormonal therapy treatment is finished.

Managing your blood sugar level when having hormonal therapy

During your hormonal therapy treatment, you may need to check your blood sugar level more often than usual. Your diabetes team will monitor you during treatment and give you advice on how to manage your blood sugars. Sometimes, they may suggest changing your insulin or tablet dose.

It is important to tell your doctors about how well you are managing to control your blood sugar level during your treatment.

About our information

This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer.

  • References

    Below is a sample of the sources used in our diabetes and cancer treatment information. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at informationproductionteam@macmillan.org.uk

    Joint British Diabetes Societies for inpatient care (JBDS-IP). The management of glycaemic control in people with cancer. 2023.

    Joharatnam-Hogan, N; Chambers, P; Dhatariya, K; and Board, R. The Joint BritishDiabetes Society for Inpatient Care (JBDS), UK Chemotherapy Board (UKCB). A guideline for the outpatient management of glycaemic control in people with cancer. Diabetes Medicine. 2022; 39.1-11. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1111/dme.14636 [accessed Oct 2022].

    Shahid, R.; Shahid, A.; Duc, L; and Sunil, Y. Diabetes and Cancer, Risks, Challenges, Management and Outcomes. MDPI. 2021;13:1-21. Available from: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8616213 [accessed Oct 2022].

Date reviewed

Reviewed: 01 September 2023
Next review: 01 September 2026
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