The hormone therapy treatment for Breast cancer
What are hormones?
The hormones are the substances that function as the chemical messengers in the body, They affect the actions of the cells and the tissues at different locations in the body, and they often reach their targets through the bloodstream.
Estrogen and progesterone are produced by the ovaries in the premenopausal women and by some other tissues, including the fat and the skin in the premenopausal and the postmenopausal women.
Estrogen promotes the development of the female sex characteristics and the long bones growth, Progesterone plays the role in the menstrual cycle and the pregnancy, They can promote the growth of some breast cancers, which are called the hormone-sensitive (or the hormone-dependent) breast cancers.
The hormone-sensitive breast cancer cells contain proteins known as the hormone receptors that become activated when the hormones bind to them, The activated receptors cause the changes in the expression of the specific genes that can lead to the stimulation of cell growth.
Breast cancer hormone therapy
The hormone therapy is also called the hormonal therapy, the hormone treatment, or the endocrine therapy , It slows or stops the growth of the hormone-sensitive tumor by blocking the body’s ability to produce the hormones or by interfering with the hormone action, The tumors which are the hormone-insensitive do not respond to the hormone therapy.
The hormone therapy for breast cancer is not the same as the menopausal hormone therapy or the female hormone replacement therapy, in which the hormones are given to reduce the menopause symptoms.
The hormone therapy is another form of systemic therapy, It is used as an adjuvant therapy, It can help reduce the risk of cancer coming back after the surgery, but it can be used as the neoadjuvant treatment, and it is also used to treat cancer that has come back after the treatment or has spread.
The ovaries are the source of the hormone estrogen until the woman menopause, After the menopause, there are smaller amounts are still made in the fat tissue of the body, where the hormone made by the adrenal gland is converted into estrogen.
Estrogen promotes the growth of cancers which are the hormone receptor-positive, About 2 out of 3 of the breast cancers are the hormone receptor-positive, and they contain the receptors for the hormones estrogen (the ER-positive cancers) & the progesterone (The PR-positive cancers).
The most types of hormone therapy for the breast cancer either lower estrogen levels or stop estrogen from acting on the breast cancer cells, This type of treatment is helpful for the hormone receptor-positive breast cancers but it does not help the patients whose tumors are the hormone receptor negative (ER- and PR are negative).
The estrogen and progesterone hormones affect some breast cancers, these cancers can be described as the estrogen receptor positive (ER+) or the progesterone receptor positive (PR+) or both, and the hormone treatment for the breast cancer works by stopping these hormones getting to the breast cancer cells.