Hormone (Endocrine) therapy


what hormone therapy is;

Hormones are substances made naturally in the body, where they control the growth and activity of normal cells. The ovaries produce the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone before the menopause. After the menopause oestrogen is made in body fat.

Macmillan Cancer Support (2015) Suggest that Oestrogen can stimulate the growth of some breast cancer cells. So hormone treatments for breast cancer lower the levels of oestrogen and progesterone in the body, or block their effects. Hormone therapy is only likely to work if the breast cancer cells have oestrogen receptors (ER).

The hormones oestrogen and progesterone can encourage some breast cancers to grow. For women with oestrogen-receptor positive cancers, hormonal therapy can reduce the amount of oestrogen in the body. This can delay the growth of the cancer. The type of therapy you have depends on whether you have been through the menopause, the risk of the cancer returning and the likely side effects of the therapy.


Aromatase inhibitors (AIs) are the main hormonal therapy given to women who have been through the menopause. AIs can cause bone thinning. You will have scans to check your bone health.

Tamoxifen is the main hormonal therapy for women who haven’t been through the menopause. This treatment may bring on a temporary or permanent menopause with side effects such as flushes and weight gain.

Oestrogen levels can also be reduced by having an operation to remove the ovaries or having radiotherapy to the ovaries. Both these procedures cause permanent infertility.

After surgery ;

Hormone therapy is usually started after surgery to reduce the risk of the breast cancer coming back or spreading elsewhere in the body.

Before surgery;

Hormone therapy may be given before surgery to reduce the size of the cancer or because surgery isn’t an option, for example for people who have other illnesses such as lung or heart conditions.





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