Hormonal Therapy For Prostate Cancer – A Treatment Worth Having

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Prostate cancer hormonal treatments take the form of efforts to hinder the body’s production of the male sex hormone DHT ? dihydrotestosterone ? which has been found to contribute in no small way to the growth and progression of prostate malignant tumor in the body.

DHT is not a cause of prostate type of cancer ? or at least scientists haven’t even suggested that just yet. However American Nobel Laureate Charles Brenton Higgins made the discovery close to a century ago that once the hormone was removed by castration, prostate condition in dogs started to shrink significantly, or at least they stopped growing. He won the big prize all those years ago, precipitating further studies that have now yielded hormonal therapy for the treatment of various types of cancer, especially cancers of the reproductive system ? prostate, breast, and ovarian.

Surgical castration, or orchiectomy, is therefore one of the better known hormonal treatments for prostate cancer. During this procedure, the male testicles are removed permanently, which effectively stops the production of the hormone testosterone. Ordinarily, testosterone would work with the dehydroepiandrosterone from the adrenal glands to cause the prostate to produce DHT. With the testosterone gone, DHT production is severely compromised; and in the absence of the hormone, the cancer finds it difficult to progress.

Another hormonal treatment follows the approach of administering drugs to the patient with the intention of interrupting DHT synthesis in the body. To this end GnRH agonists or antagonists are given to the patient to cause damage to luteinizing hormone (LH) process. The previous, GnRH (gonadotropine releasing hormone) agonists, spike the production of LH for a while, which the body cannot sustain. After a few days, LH production crashes and DHT is compromised. The second technique uses GnRH antagonist which simply antagonize GnRH and LH production so that DHT cannot be produced.

As a result, the prostate tumor, lacking its critical fuel, shrinks, or at least stops growing.

Hormonal treatments for prostate cancer are not cures, however. After a couple of years, the cancer gets resistant to the therapy and starts to grow again. As a result, patients may have to be treated with other more definitive interventions if the intention is to cure the disease. For instance, it may be used to shrink a tumor in preparation for prostatectomy or radiation therapy, or it may be used in late stage disease to slow the progression of the cancer.

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