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Hormonal Therapy

Hormonal Therapy

Hormonal therapy is used as a form of treatment for breast cancer. This is not to be confused with hormone replacement therapy known as HRT which is used during or following the menopause.

Hormonal therapy is given as a treatment for breast cancer. It works by blocking the effect of the hormone oestrogen, which in most patients can promote the growth of breast cancer. Cancer cells that have oestrogen receptors are referred to as hormone receptor positive. If there are no receptors on the cells, this is referred to as hormone receptor negative. Hormonal therapy would not be effective for patients who are hormone receptor negative.

The goal of hormonal therapy is to prevent the hormones from being taken up by the cells thereby slowing or stopping the growth of cancer. There are several different types of hormonal therapies and they work in slightly different ways:

  • By altering the level of hormones produced in the body
  • By blocking the hormone receptors

The most commonly used hormone therapies are:

  • Tamoxifen
  • Arimedex
  • Zoladex

An individual's suitability for hormonal therapy is determined by certain factors which will be discussed with the Breast Specialist. The potential benefits versus the potential side effects of the treatment will be discussed in relation to an individual's unique situation. It is widely acknowledged that the benefits of hormonal therapy far outweigh the side effects as a treatment for breast cancer.