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.

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 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 cancer grows, Tamoxifen blocks these receptors.

Breast cancer

Breast cancer

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.

Luteinizing hormone (LH) blockers

The pituitary gland in the brain controls the 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, 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, 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 causes stroke in certain subgroups, Ovarian suppression causes the bone loss, the mood swings, the depression, and the loss of libido.

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

The hormone therapy treatment for Breast cancer

The general side effects of hormone therapy in cancer treatment

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