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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

  • Thumb avatar default

    Is it safe to take vitamin E when taking estrogen and aromatase inhibitors?

    Asked by anonymous

    Survivor since 2012
    over 7 years 1 answer
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Hi Jo,
      It is probably best to ask your oncologist when it comes to taking anything. You never know what might interfere with the drugs you are taking.... even vitamins.
      Take care, Sharon

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    My doctor said that taking tamoxifen may increase the chance of cervical cancer. What are the statistics?

    Asked by anonymous

    Survivor since 2012
    about 8 years 2 answers
    • armando jimenez Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Honestly there pretty high. But that's why this medication isnli

      Comment
    • armando jimenez Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Honestly pretty high but this medication is limited to a 4-5 year span. But if this was prescribed to you than your at a high risk of breast cancer.

      Comment
  • Elizabeth Castro Profile

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

    Asked by anonymous

    Survivor since 2012
    about 7 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
  • nicole blagburn Profile

    1 month into Tamoxifen. Last few days I'm having bad hot flashes and very nauseous all day. I don't want to take them anymore! Will this get easier?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Jk Joyce Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2012

      I have been on it for 5 weeks and the hot flashes continue but I have not been nauseous in about a week now so hoping that is over. I hope and pray it gets better for us both....excuse me while I go take another shower...ugh!

      Comment
    • Anne Marie jacintho Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2003

      Yes it will get easier the first couple month is the worst your body is trying to adjust like being pregnant when the hormones are out of whack Tamoxifen peeks between 6-8 months then I found things started to settle down hot flashes less intense mood swings better. I would get a wave like...

      more

      Yes it will get easier the first couple month is the worst your body is trying to adjust like being pregnant when the hormones are out of whack Tamoxifen peeks between 6-8 months then I found things started to settle down hot flashes less intense mood swings better. I would get a wave like feeling of being overwhelmed totally exhausted nauseous and wanting to cry then the dripping wet hot flashes. After a while I realized if I just calmed myself down it's just the dam pill and those hormones take a deep breath and let it pass. I felt much better. I'd actually tell myself

      1 comment

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