Hormonal Therapy

What is Hormonal Therapy?

Hormonal therapy for breast cancer utilises treatments that reduce the levels of hormones in your body or block the effect that the hormones have on cancer cells.

Hormonal therapy should not be confused with Hormone Replacement Therapy or HRT.

Hormone replacement therapy is not a treatment for breast cancer. Hormone replacement therapy is often used during menopause to raise oestrogen levels and combat menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings.

Who is Hormonal Therapy suitable for?

Hormonal therapy treatment is given if your cancer is ‘ER or PR positive’ This means that your cancer cells have receptors for oestrogen and/or progesterone on their surfaces, and when your body produces oestrogen or progesterone it makes the breast cancer cells grow and divide.

Hormonal therapy can also be used for women who are at high risk of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer but who have not been diagnosed with breast cancer.

How does Hormonal Therapy work?

Hormonal therapy treatment stops your body’s oestrogens from being used by the cancer cells to grow and divide. In effect, it does the opposite of hormone replacement therapy by reducing the oestrogen in the body. As well as stopping the effect of oestrogen on the cancer cells it also reduces the risk of the cancer returning post-surgery.

When deciding upon the best hormonal therapy there are several factors taken into consideration:

  • The stage of your breast cancer.
  • If you are pre or post-menopausal.
  • If you have a history of blood clots.
  • Your bone density and any history of arthritis.
  • Any risk of uterine or ovarian cancer.

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