Breast cancer affects both men and women. Breast cancer hormone replacement therapy can only be used to treat only cancer sensitive to hormones. Breast cancers are malignant tumors that grow and spread to nearby tissues and distant organs. Their growth is called metastasis. Breast cancer treatment requires that the growth is removed and the spread or reoccurrence of the tumor is prevented. The hormone therapy is usually done in combination with other additional treatments called adjuvant therapy.
This hormone therapy works by reducing the production rate of hormones in the body and by preventing hormones from attaching to receptors on cancerous cells. It is only applicable to cancer that has receptors for the estrogen and progesterone hormones.
This therapy is mostly used after cancer surgery to reduce the chances of cancer return. It shrinks the cancerous tumor to aid its complete removal. The therapy can also be used to control widely spread cancer. Hormone therapy accesses cancerous cells located anywhere in the body.
The hormone receptor-positive cancerous cells are referred to as estrogen receptor-positive or progesterone receptor-positive. Estrogen triggers the development and maintenance of female characteristics while progesterone is important in the menstrual cycle and pregnancy. A cancer cell sample is analysed to determine if it has receptors for estrogen or progesterone.
Estrogen and progesterone promote the growth of cancerous cells that are hormone-sensitive or contain hormone receptors. These receptors get activated when they bind with hormones leading to stimulation of cell growth.
The cancer cell when diagnosed is classified as hormone receptor-negative or hormone receptor-positive. Hormone insensitive tumors do not contain hormone receptors and will therefore not respond to hormone treatment. Hormone therapy helps to prevent the regrowth of the cancer cell, slow or stop the growth of a cancerous cell, reduce the risk of cancer growing on the breast and reduce the size of the cancer tumor before going for surgery. This therapy causes side effects such as.
- Vaginal dryness and irritation
- Mood swings and depression
- Hot flashes
- Joint and muscle pain
- Importance in men
- Blood clots in veins
- Heart disease
- Uterine cancer
Breast cancer medications work by preventing hormones from reaching the cancer cells, therefore, slowing down their growth and the cell may finally die. The medications treat advanced cancer, reduce the risk of reappearance, prevent the spread of cancer to other parts of the body. Other types of medication lower the level of estrogen in the body hence cancer cells lack adequate hormones for growth.
It involves the use of aromatase inhibitors. These drugs work by reducing the risk of recurrence of cancer cells in women who have undergone treatment in the early stages of cancer. Finally, hormone therapy can be used together with targeted therapy to make the therapy more effective. Targeted therapy drugs weaken the cancer cells by attacking them.
Drugs that block estrogen receptors
Works by blocking the estrogen from connecting to cancerous cells and fuelling them to grow and divide. This drug is referred to as a selective estrogen receptor modulator since in the breast cells it acts as an anti-estrogen. This medication is suitable for women who have not undergone menopause. Tamoxifen is applied in the following cancerous situations
- Helps in lowering the risk in women with a high risk of breast cancer.
- Prevents reappearance of cancer in both breasts for women who have undergone breast-conserving surgery for DCIS.
- Lowers chances of cancer coming back for women who have been treated by tamoxifen because they had receptor-positive invasive breast cancer.
- Helps to stop the growth and spread of cancer for women with hormone-positive breast cancer that has spread to other areas.
This is also an anti-estrogen drug that is allowed to be used only for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer in premenopausal women.
This drug’s working mechanism involves blocking and damaging estrogen receptors. Used to treat post-menopausal women cancer. It is only used when breast cancer is in its advanced stages, other drugs such as tamoxifen have stopped working in the treatment therapy of a patient and to treat metastatic breast cancer.
Treatments that lower estrogen levels
Lowering estrogen levels in women with breast cancer help to slow down cancer growth and prevent the reoccurrence of cancer.
1. Aromatase inhibitors
They work by stopping estrogen production. For women whose ovaries are no longer functional, estrogen is produced in small amounts by the enzyme aromatase. The inhibitors block the enzyme from produce estrogen. Examples include Letrozole, Anastrozole, and Aromasin. They can also be used to treat patients who have not reached menopause and have taken tamoxifen first in the initial treatment. For cancer cases where cancer spreads or comes back, AIs can be used since such cancer are advanced especially in post-menopausal women.
Other types of hormone therapy used for breast cancer treatment include:
2. Megestrol acetate, progesterone-like
4. High doses of estrogen
Hormone replacement therapy is used in the treatment of various conditions such as breast cancer and heart disease. Liv Natural health provides hormone replacement services and treatment of various conditions arising from therapy. Breast cancer therapy stimulates or depresses breast cancer growth.
The therapy is therefore used for hormone-sensitive cancer cells only. The drugs administered are meant to slow down the growth of cancerous cells, reduce chances of reoccurrence of cancer, reduce the size of the cancer growth before surgery, and kill the cancerous growth. Different methods are used for hormone therapy in breast cancer treatment. The therapy may cause some side effects that are controllable and maintainable. The therapy is also more effective when used for cancer treatment in the early stages of cancer cell growth.
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