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Treatment

 
Treatment

Chapter: 6 - Treatment

Subchapter: 9 - Hormone Therapy

Hormones like estrogen and progesterone are chemicals produced by glands in the body. In our simplified illustration, we are using circles for estrogen and squares for progesterone. Normally, these hormones help regulate body cycles like menstruation. However, as we discussed in Subchapter 3.1 “Growth of Cancer,” sometimes these same hormones can cause cancer to grow.

The pathologist will perform tests on the cancer cells to determine if they have receptors that feed on estrogen or progesterone, stimulating their growth. If the cancer cells have these receptors, your doctor may recommend hormone therapy drugs, such as blockers or inhibitors. Both types of drugs help to destroy cancer cells by cutting off their supply of hormones.

Hormone Blockers
The most common hormone therapy drug is Tamoxifen. It blocks the estrogen-shaped openings in the cells, preventing estrogen-fueled cancers from growing.

Tamoxifen can be taken as a pill on a daily basis, up to five years after surgery.

Hormone Inhibitors
Hormone inhibitors also target cancer cells with hormone receptors, but unlike hormone blockers, they work by reducing the body’s hormone production. When cancer cells are cut off from the ‘food supply’ (in this case, estrogen) the tumor begins to starve and die.

However, hormone inhibitors are only used in postmenopausal women.

Generally, the benefits of using hormone therapy and chemotherapy together have a much greater combined effect than using either alone. If your cancer is positive for hormone receptors, your doctor may recommend both therapies.

Related Questions

  • Cornelia AndWalter Kutzner Profile

    anyone restricting dairy products in their diets??

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 3 years 7 answers
    • View all 7 answers
    • Lou Cam Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      It is more about choosing dairy from cows that have not been given things like hormones and antibiotics, as well as not choosing full fat dairy. As someone estrogen positive, I don't want to add any hormones to my body. If the milk container does not tell me hormones have been given, I do not...

      more

      It is more about choosing dairy from cows that have not been given things like hormones and antibiotics, as well as not choosing full fat dairy. As someone estrogen positive, I don't want to add any hormones to my body. If the milk container does not tell me hormones have been given, I do not buy it. Almond milk is also a good substitute. Lower fat varieties of cheese and yogurt would contain less hormones because hormones are concentrated in the fat.

      Comment
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I was told to eat a well rounded diet if possible. The only thing I could stand was crackers and yogurt. I got down a protein drink every day. Eat what you can but always hydrate. It's the key to making it tolerable.

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    I have stage 4 estrogen sensitive BC with mets to my lungs tamoxifen has been very successful! Tumors in my lungs have gone from 14mm down to pinpoints but feel like I'm waiting for it to explode again? Has anybody experienced this?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 5 years 2 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Anonymous,
      It wouldn't be something that can be predicted. What you have experienced is what was hoped for. Many women are treated with chemotherapy or various other drugs which shrink tumors before they have their surgery. Those of us who have, or have had breast cancer live with the thought...

      more

      Anonymous,
      It wouldn't be something that can be predicted. What you have experienced is what was hoped for. Many women are treated with chemotherapy or various other drugs which shrink tumors before they have their surgery. Those of us who have, or have had breast cancer live with the thought of the possiblity that "other shoe could drop." We just follow the protocol set up for us with our care team and the rest is pretty much left to God. Live life to it's fullest. Hang in there, Gal, you have a lot of company out here.
      Take care, Sharon

      1 comment
    • Rita Jo Hayes Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2009

      I have and am experiencing it. Like Sharon said nothing can be predicted. I have a great attitude and seance of humor. Sometimes that can be really good medicine to go along with all of our treatments. My philosophy is "I" am going to change things and plow a new path for others that are...

      more

      I have and am experiencing it. Like Sharon said nothing can be predicted. I have a great attitude and seance of humor. Sometimes that can be really good medicine to go along with all of our treatments. My philosophy is "I" am going to change things and plow a new path for others that are unfortunate enough to have to go thru this. I have benefitted from it also. I have always been a "rigid, keep to the schedule and rules, worry worry worry about the tomorrows" type of person. I am now more relaxed and forgiving of all. Don't sit and wait for it. Live it and fight like us girls! Take care

      1 comment
  • Elizabeth Castro Profile

    Is there any link between tamoxifen, liver disease, cancer or causing a fatty liver?

    Asked by anonymous

    Survivor since 2012
    over 5 years 2 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Elizabeth,
      SInce you posed the question, I went to my friend Mr. Google and read some of the replies. It seems long term Tamoxifen use can possibly cause liver enzymes to change. It is not a --for sure-- side effect. Your doctor is going to monitor by having blood chem panels run fairly...

      more

      Elizabeth,
      SInce you posed the question, I went to my friend Mr. Google and read some of the replies. It seems long term Tamoxifen use can possibly cause liver enzymes to change. It is not a --for sure-- side effect. Your doctor is going to monitor by having blood chem panels run fairly frequently. It is one of those double-edged swords. It is not thought of to cause liver cancer. I think of the side effects of chemotherapy.... and you don't even want to know about those! Take care, Sharon

      Comment
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2012

      Fatty liver is the hallmark of Americans. I had a biopsy at 50 and was found with a fatty liver. Ate healthy, exercised and was trim. Still had it. I'm convinced the human body can operate on a minimum of food. Don't let any of that worry you. Make healthy choices and fight the nasty cancer....

      more

      Fatty liver is the hallmark of Americans. I had a biopsy at 50 and was found with a fatty liver. Ate healthy, exercised and was trim. Still had it. I'm convinced the human body can operate on a minimum of food. Don't let any of that worry you. Make healthy choices and fight the nasty cancer. Think good thoughts.

      Comment
  • Jodie Brummet Profile

    Anyone take tamoxifen and still have periods?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 6 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Anne Marie jacintho Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2003

      Yes I still had periods while in tamoxifen for three years. They were irregular I was already in the pre menopausal state with irregular periods before I started tamoxifen. I had an endometrial biopsy which had showed I was still a young'in and having a normal cycle.

      Comment
    • Anne Marie jacintho Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2003

      My doctor also would check my blood hormone levels every year. This past visit my hormone levels showed I am officially menopausal I haven't had a period for a year.

      Comment

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