Androgen Deprivation Therapy for Prostate
Hormone treatment for early stage prostate cancer aims to cut off the production of male hormone testosterone. Malignant cells of the prostate tend to grow with the production of this hormone. When the hormone supply is blocked, it may result in slower growth of prostate cancer cells or in some cases the cells may completely stop growing. This therapy is also known as androgen ablation or androgen deprivation.
Testosterone plays a key role in the growth and development of the prostate gland in the male human body. This hormone is unable to distinguish between healthy cells and malignant cells in the prostate, therefore it continues to feed all the cells and fuels the spread of cancerous cells.
Methods of Hormone Therapy for Prostate Cancer
Hormone treatment for early stage prostate cancer can be administered through four different methods. The first method is castration, which involves surgical removal of the testicles to completely eliminate testosterone that is produced in the testicles. This procedure is known as orchiectomy. It usually results in elimination of 90 to 95 percent of the production of testosterone. A second method, which may be used in rare cases, is the administration of female hormone estrogen into the male body. This hormone cannot directly feed the prostate cells, but the hypothalamus mistakes this hormone for testosterone and stops its production.
The third method involves a delivery of anti-androgens in the body. These agents block the cell receptors, as a result of which testosterone is unable to interact with the prostate cells. The fourth treatment option available to the patient is combined androgen blockage. This is a combination of castration and anti-androgen therapy. This treatment aims to cut off the production of testosterone by surgical removal of the testicles, and follows it up with administration of anti-androgens to stop the interaction of any remaining testosterone with the prostate gland.
Side Effects of Hormone Treatment for Prostate Cancer
The primary aim of hormone therapy in prostate cancer is to prevent the body from producing testosterone. A number of testosterone blocker medications are available, which may be combined with surgical options such as testicle removal. However, many patients are concerned about the side effects of hormone therapy and how it may affect their quality of life.
Patients should be aware that hormone therapy may result in temporary erectile dysfunction. The function may get restored to normalcy in most cases within a few months to a year. Some patients may also experience a poor sexual drive after the treatment. Other common side effects may include weakness of the bones and loss of muscle. Hot flashes may be a temporary effect of the treatment. Some patients may experience unexplained weight gain with this therapy. Certain hormonal therapies such as introduction of estrogen into the male body may also lead to an increased risk of heart disease.
Prostate Cancer Treatment Guide: https://www.prostate-cancer.com/hormone-therapy/treatment-description/hormone-description.html