Hormone Treatment and Radiotherapy in Prostate Cancer

Hormone therapy involves the use of hormones to treat diseases in the human body. Prostate cancer is one of those diseases that can be treated by hormone therapy because it has been determined scientifically and physically that prostate cancers actually depend on sex hormones to grow. Hormone therapy thus prevents the cancer cells from receiving or using the hormones they need, sometimes even supplementing other hormones that impede their progression.

Hormone therapy is sometimes a surgery to remove the organ in the endocrine system that secretes the implicated hormones. In the case of prostate cancer, androgens, especially testosterone, is the chief culprit, while its derivative DHT (dihydroestosterone) is the actual agonist. By removing the male testicles in a surgical process called orchiectomy, the production of testosterone is impeded and the prostate cancer cells start to suffer the consequences.

In other cases, hormone therapy may rely typically on drugs in order to stop the critical hormone production or at least change the way the hormones work. Androgen blockers are therefore often given to men with prostate cancer with the intention of blocking the production of testosterone and other male hormones that contribute to the growth of the cancer. Hormone therapy may be used in some cases when the patient is unable to undergo surgery or radiation because of other health problems. Also is it often the remedy of choice for prostate malignancies that recur or for shrinking the cancer before surgery or radiation therapy. As for the prostate cancer which does not react to hormone treatment, keep reading.

Early in the 1940’s, Charles Brenton Huggins found that cancer of the prostate could be retarded by the injection of stilbestrol, an artificial female sex hormone. Previously in the late 1930s, he had detected that elevated levels of the male hormone testosterone in dogs with prostate cancer often stopped growing or actually receded by removing the testes, which supplied the hormone; and that it stopped growing when estrogen, a female hormone, was administered. The experiments proved that some cancer cells required hormones to fuel their growth, leading to the discovery that male sex hormones could be used to treat breast cancer and vice versa.

To that end, other forms of hormone therapy involve the administration of synthetic female hormones (such as estrogen or estradiol) for the treatment of the disease. Even though they don’t often cure the disease, they slow it down enough for other treatments to work, or for palliative reasons when prolonging the life of the patient and delaying symptoms are the objectives. As for the prostate cancer hormone therapy survival rates, it’s far higher than you would think, especially for the early stages of the condition. That’s why it’s always very important for everyone to always go for the tests at least once a year ? the sooner it’s detected, the better chances you have for surviving it.

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