Hormone therapy is often used in combination with radiotherapy and is used in the treatment of prostate cancer. Hormone therapy may also be recommended after radiotherapy or surgery to reduce the chances of cancerous cells returning. Hormones control the growth of cells in the prostate. In particular, prostate cancer needs the hormone testosterone to grow. The purpose of hormone therapy is to block the effects of testosterone, either by stopping its production or by stopping your body being able to use testosterone. It is given as:
- Injections to stop the production of testosterone, called luteinising hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) agonists
- Tablets to block the effects or reduce the production of testosterone, called anti-androgen treatment
- Combined LHRH and anti-androgen treatment
The main side effects of hormone treatment are caused by their effects on testosterone. They usually go away when treatment stops. They include loss of sex drive and erectile dysfunction (this is more common with LHRH agonists than anti-androgens).