It is testosterone which is the agent that fuels the growth of Prostate Cancer. Hormone Therapy seeks to inhibit the production and effects of testosterone and therefore arrest the growth of the cancer. You may see hormone therapy called ADT. These letters stand for Androgen Deprivation Therapy.
ADT does not cure the cancer. It is often used as an adjuvant to either Radiotherapy or Brachytherapy. A benefit of ADT is that the tumour has a tendency to shrink and this is useful in the case of both of the treatments mentioned as the volume of the body that needs to be treated becomes smaller and damage to healthy tissues is lowered. Typically ADT is used for around 3 – 8 months before treatment begins.
It is used for varying amounts of time. For Brachytherapy it may be used just to shrink the tumour. Whereas for Radiotherapy (EBRT) if the cancer is “serious” – i.e. has a high Gleason Score it may be in place for up to two years, or, even prescribed on a continuing basis. Your oncologist will discuss this with you. Also, if the cancer recurs after initial treatment or is at Stage 4, ADT will often be prescribed by Oncologists to assist in controlling the further progression of the disease.
There are side effects, and most men on ADT will experience one or more of these. Your oncologist will discuss this with you in detail, but the list of potential side effects includes “hot flushes”, lethargy, weight gain, osteoporosis, loss of body hair, and erectile dysfunction. The vast majority of men receiving ADT are well able to tolerate the side effects that apply to them.
In my own journey to date, I have experienced most of the above, but expect some reversal when the ADT course is completed. In addition, I developed “radiation enteritis” about 4 months after my EBRT finished, a condition that was irksome for a couple of months, but regarded as related to the EBRT rather than the ADT. Having said that, I continue to live an active life with very little change despite the prostate cancer and its treatment.
In the video below, Dr Mark Scholz discusses various aspects of Hormone Therapy.