Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer

1 What is a Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer?

A treatment for breast cancers that are sensitive to hormones is called hormone therapy for breast cancer. The common forms of this therapy work by decreasing your body’s production of hormones or by blocking hormones from attaching to cancer cells.

Hormone therapy for breast cancer is used to shrink a tumor before an operation so it will be more likely that cancer will be removed and is used also after surgery to reduce the risk of the return of cancer. This therapy may also help control the spreading of cancer to other parts of the body.

2 Reasons for Procedure

The main reason for hormone therapy for breast cancer is to treat cancers that are hormone sensitive.

Some breast cancers are fueled by the natural hormones estrogen and progesterone. They refer to these as progesterone receptor positive (PR positive) or estrogen receptor positive (ER positive).

By analyzing your cancer cells, your doctor can determine if your cancer is PR positive or ER positive.

Hormone therapy for breast cancer can help to:

  • Decrease the risk of cancer developing in other breast tissue
  • Prevent cancer from coming back
  • Reduce the size of a tumor prior to surgery
  • Slow or Stop the growth of cancer that has spread
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3 Potential Risks

The potential risks of hormone therapy for breast cancer include:

Some of the most serious side effects which are less common include:

4 Preparing for your Procedure

In preparing for your hormone therapy for breast cancer, you must follow your doctor’s orders. 

The ovaries produce the estrogen. And after menopause, the estrogen will be diminished but your body fat tissue might still produce small amounts of the hormone.

A lot of breast cancer hormone therapy works to slow or stop the production of estrogen.

This will prevent tumors from obtaining estrogen so the hormone therapy for breast cancer can slow or stop these hormone receptor tumors.

5 What to Expect

Here you can find out what to expect from your hormone therapy for breast cancer.

There are some approaches to hormone therapy. Medications that block hormones from attaching to cancer cells – the tumor growth may slow and the cells may die, some of the medications include Tamoxifen to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence in women who had been treated for early-stage breast cancer which is a daily pill and is mostly taken for 5 to 10 years.

This is also used for both premenopausal and postmenopausal women and to treat cancer in women with advanced cancer; Toremifene (Farestone) to treat breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body which is a daily pill and is also used for postmenopausal women; Fulvestrant (Faslodex) used in postmenopausal women to treat advanced breast cancer where other hormone therapies do not work anymore and this is given as shot every two weeks.

Medications that stop the body from making estrogen after menopause are Aromatase inhibitors that help in reducing the amount of estrogen in your body and are used in women who have undergone menopause.

Aromatase inhibitors include:

  • Anastrozole (Arimidex) to treat advanced breast cancer and to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence in women who have been treated for early-stage breast cancer
  • Exemestane (Aromasin) is often used after taking tamoxifen for 2 to 3 years and to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence in women who have been treated for early-stage breast cancer and also to treat advanced breast cancer in women if tamoxifen does not work anymore
  • Letrozole (Femara) to treat advanced breast cancer and to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence in women who have been treated for early-stage breast cancer, this can also be used after completing tamoxifen

These inhibitors are given as pills. Treatments to stop ovarian function in premenopausal women may also be an option to stop producing hormones and is used by women who have advanced breast cancer.

Options are:

6 Procedure Results

Understanding the results of your hormone therapy for breast cancer will be made possible by your doctor.

You will have to visit your oncologist for regular check-ups while taking hormone therapy for breast cancer. He may ask you is there are any side effects.

Hormone therapy following surgery, radiation or chemotherapy has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence in people with early-stage hormone-sensitive breast cancers.

It can also reduce the progression in people with hormone-sensitive tumors and reduce the risk of metastatic breast cancer growth.

Your doctor may recommend tests to watch for cancer progression or recurrence and to monitor your medical situation while you are taking hormone therapy. Results will give your doctor an idea how you respond to the therapy.

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