Hormonal therapy for advanced prostate cancer

Hormonal therapy is the main treatment for men with advanced prostate cancer. It can shrink the cancer, slow its growth, and reduce symptoms.

Your doctor or nurse will talk to you about the type of hormonal therapy that is best for your situation. They will explain the different side effects and talk to you about your preferences.

Prostate cancer needs the hormone testosterone to grow. Testosterone is mainly made by the testicles. A small amount is made by the adrenal glands, above each kidney. Hormonal therapies lower your testosterone levels or stop it reaching the cancer cells.

Testosterone is important for:

  • sex drive (libido)
  • getting an erection
  • facial and body hair
  • muscle development and bone strength.

Your doctor or nurse will check how well your hormonal therapy is working. They will ask about your symptoms, examine you, and monitor your PSA level. PSA is usually a good guide to how well treatment is working. If it goes up, they may talk to you about having a different hormonal therapy.

How you have hormonal therapy

There are different types of hormonal therapy. You can have them as:

  • injections
  • implants
  • a nasal spray
  • tablets.

You might have a drug on its own or along with another hormonal therapy.

Another way of reducing testosterone is to have an operation called an orchidectomy to remove the testicles. This is not commonly done.

Some men have hormonal therapy with chemotherapy when they are first diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. This may be more effective than hormonal therapy on its own. But there are more side effects to cope with. Your cancer doctor can tell you more about this.

Intermittent hormonal therapy

Instead of taking the drugs continuously, you may stop taking the drugs for a while and then start taking them again. This is called intermittent hormonal therapy. It means you get a break from the side effects of hormonal therapy. This is not suitable for everyone. It should only be done following your doctor’s advice.

Intermittent hormonal therapy may be helpful in some men when certain side effects are difficult to cope with. Your doctor or nurse will explain the possible advantages and disadvantages. If your PSA level begins to rise or your symptoms get worse, your doctor will advise starting hormonal therapy again.

Back to Hormonal therapies explained

Types of hormonal therapy

There are different types of hormonal therapies that may be used. Your doctor or nurse will explain the drug that is most suitable for your situation.

Side effects of hormonal therapy

There are different side effects to hormone therapy but there are ways to manage these. Your doctor or nurse can tell you more.