Breast cancers have several types affected by blood hormones. In order to treat these types of breast cancer, doctors will recommend you to get hormone therapy. This is a form of systemic therapy affecting not only the breast cancer cells but also the cancerous cells existing all over the body. Hormone therapy is only applied for women with hormone receptor-positive breast cancers.
What is hormone therapy?
Hormonal therapy will help slow down or stop the development of hormone-sensitive lumps. It blocks the hormone production ability and interferes the hormone action of the body. Those who have hormone-insensitive tumors could not treat by this therapy. Therefore, there are several strategies to treat hormone-sensitive breast cancer. It is including blocking ovarian function, blocking estrogen production and counteracting estrogen’s effect.
How does hormone therapy treat breast cancer?
There are several different types of hormone therapy using ways to keep estrogen from making cancer grow. Most types of hormone therapy for breast cancer either lower estrogen levels or stop estrogen from acting on breast cancer cells. Here are 3 main cases that doctors will apply hormonal therapy.
Adjuvant treatment is a hormone therapy approach after surgery to stop the spread of cancer cell to other body parts. Or it reduces the risk of the breast cancer cell coming back. Adjuvant treatment is also used after you finish the chemotherapy. In case you have undergone radiotherapy after surgery without chemotherapy, your doctor may start adjuvant treatment during or after radiotherapy procedure.
In order to reduce the cancer cell’s size or to alter surgery option, doctors might apply hormone therapy before surgery. Doctors could also use this therapy for other health conditions such as lung or heart problems. Hormone therapy applied before surgery will shrink a large or locally advanced cancer in the breast. By shrinking down the cancer cell, the patient will only have the cancer cells removed instead of the whole breast.
If cancer has come back or spread
Hormone therapy helps to treat breast cancer that has come back after treatment (recurrence). Or it could treat cancer that has spread to another part of the body (secondary breast cancer). Depending on your previous breast cancer treatments, doctors will give hormonal treatment at the same time with other treatments or individually. If your breast cancer comes back when you are already under the hormone therapy, doctors will probably offer you a different type of hormone therapy.
Hormone therapy will usually be applied after adjuvant therapy or surgery in order to reduce the return of cancer cell. Since most early cases of breast cancer are ER-positive, many clinical trials have proven the positive effect of hormonal therapy for breast cancer prevention. Women with high risks of getting the disease should consider taking this effective therapy.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017
Breast Cancer. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/detailedguide/breast-cancer-treating-hormone-therapy. Accessed October 17, 2016.
Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer. https://www.cancer.gov/types/breast/breast-hormone-therapy-fact-sheet. Accessed October 17, 2016.
Hormonal Therapy. http://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/hormonal. Accessed October 17, 2016.