Q: How is hormone therapy used to treat prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer hormone therapy, also called androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), is used to suppress the amount of testosterone produced by the body. The goal is to shrink or slow the prostate tumor by starving cancer cells of the androgens that fuel its growth and spread.
Q: How does hormone therapy differ from robotic prostate surgery?
First and foremost, hormone therapy does not remove prostate cancer from the body; rather, it is a treatment modality for disease management. Men who undergo hormone therapy for prostate cancer must remain dedicated to ongoing screenings for their fluctuating PSA level and to watch for disease recurrence.
Robotic prostate surgery is the only prostate cancer treatment that removes the cancerous prostate from the body and results in a lifetime PSA of zero. Many men and their families choose robotic prostate surgery for the cancer-free assurance it provides.
Q: What are the side effects of hormone therapy?
There are three primary concerns associated with hormone therapy: bone weakening and loss, kidney damage, and hip damage.
A study published in 2013 found that one quarter of patients who suffer a hip fracture previously underwent ADT. The risk of Cancer Treatment-Induced Bone Loss (CTIBL) is widely documented and should be carefully considered and discussed with your physician prior to electing hormone therapy.
In a separate 2013 study, risk of acute kidney injury (AKI) was significantly increased among men who elected hormone therapy for their advanced, non-metastatic prostate cancer.
In 2009, a prostate cancer study cautioned against the use of hormone therapy in men with pre-existing heart disease, citing potentially fatal side effects.
Other potential prostate cancer hormone therapy side effects include:
- Erectile dysfunction and loss of libido
- Shrinking of the penis and testicles
- Hot flashes and breast tenderness
- Osteoporosis (bone weakening) and anemia
- Reduced muscle mass and excess weight
- Fatigue and depression
Q: Will I need additional treatment after prostate cancer hormone therapy?
While there is no way to determine if your hormone therapy will be definitive, keep in mind that the cancerous tumor will remain in your body. Therefore, men of advanced age or those who are not surgical candidates may be best suited for this treatment.