Types and side effects of hormone therapies for Breast cancer

Types of hormone therapies for Breast cancer

The hormone-sensitive breast cancer can be treated by blocking the ovarian function because the ovaries are the main source of estrogen in the premenopausal women , The estrogen levels can be reduced by eliminating or suppressing the ovarian function , Blocking the ovarian function is called the ovarian ablation .

You should know that the ovarian ablation can be done surgically to remove the ovaries ( It is called the oophorectomy) or by the treatment with the radiation , This type of the ovarian ablation is usually permanent.


It is one of the most popular hormone therapies that used for the breast cancer , Both the premenopausal women and the postmenopausal women can take Tamoxifen that works by stopping the hormone estrogen from reaching the cancer cells .

The receptors are areas in some breast cancer cells , When estrogen locks onto the receptors , It can encourage the cells of the breast cancer to divide so that the cancer grows , Tamoxifen blocks these receptors .

Breast cancer

Breast cancer

You should know that the most popular side effects of these drugs include the fatigue , the hot flashes , the vaginal dryness or the discharge, and the mood swings .

Aromatase inhibitors

The aromatase inhibitor can occur after the menopause , where the ovaries stop producing estrogen but the body makes small amount by changing other hormones into estrogen ( called the androgens ) , The aromatase inhibitors are used primarily in the postmenopausal women .

We need an enzyme called the aromatase that the body uses it to make estrogen in the ovaries and in other tissues , Aromatase inhibitors block the activity of this enzyme to prevent it from changing the androgens to estrogen , And there are a few types of the aromatase inhibitor .

The luteinising hormone (LH) blockers

Pituitary gland in the brain controls the amount of sex hormones made by the ovaries , In the women , LH blockers are the drugs that stop the ovaries making estrogen or progesterone , LH blockers can block the signal from the pituitary gland to the ovaries .

You will have this treatment only , if you have not had your menopause yet , After the menopause , your ovaries do not produce the hormones so this type of drug will not help , One LH blocker used for the breast cancer is goserelin ( Zoladex ) .

The side effects of hormone therapy

The hormone therapy side effects depend on the drug or the type of treatment ,  The hormone therapy causes the hot flashes , the night sweats , and the vaginal dryness , And it disrupts the menstrual cycle in the premenopausal women also .

Tamoxifen causes the blood clots especially in the lungs and legs , the Stroke , the cataracts , The endometrial and the uterine cancers , It causes the bone loss in the premenopausal women , The mood swings , the depression , and the loss of libido .

There are less common but serious side effects of the hormone therapy drugs , In men , Tamoxifen causes the headaches , the nausea , the vomiting , the skin rash , the impotence , and decreased sexual interest .

Raloxifene causes risk of the blood clots especially in the lungs and the legs , It cause stroke in certain subgroups , Ovarian suppression causes the bone loss , the mood swings , the depression , and the loss of libido

Aromatase inhibitors causes risk of the heart attack , the angina , the heart failure , and hypercholesterolemia causes the bone loss , the joint pain , the mood swings and the depression .

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