Hormone therapy: Removing the male hormone or its effects
If you have a medium or high risk cancer, your EBRT might be combined with androgen deprivation therapy or hormone therapy. This is treatment with drugs designed to remove or minimise the effect of the male hormone, testosterone, on the body. Hormone therapy may begin 3 to 8 months before radiotherapy and may continue for 2 or more years.
The lack of male hormone can cause cancer cell death, making the job of radiotherapy easier. Hormone therapy alone is never a curative treatment.
This type of combined therapy has been shown to improve cure rates and survival in men with medium and high risk prostate cancer(1). However as male hormones have many functions in the body, removing them will cause side effects. These include hot flushes, breast enlargement, loss of libido and loss of erectile function (impotence), lack of energy, mood changes (depression) and weight gain. Over the long term, osteoporosis (weakening of the bones) may be a concern. Many doctors now recommend a bone density scan every 1-2 years to monitor changes. Vitamin D and calcium supplements are advised for men on hormone therapy.
Hormone therapy used to increase the effectiveness of radiotherapy is usually temporary, and these side effects diminish with time.
For more information on hormone therapy please read: http://www.prostatefitness.net//educational-resources/phip-series/phip-5/
Prostate cancer support groups may prove helpful in contacting other men with prostate cancer.
1. Michel B, et al. External irradiation with or without long-term androgen suppression for prostate cancer with high metastatic risk: 10-year results of an EORTC randomised study. The Lancet Oncology, 2010;11(11):1066–73.
National Cancer Helpline: 13 11 20
This information sheet is not intended to take the place of medical advice. Information on prostate disease is constantly being updated. We have made every effort to ensure that information was current at the time of production; however your GP or specialist may provide you with new or different information that is more appropriate to your needs.
© Repatriation General Hospital, 2013.