Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the world. According to statistics, there are over 1,735,350 new cases of cancer as of 2018, and roughly 609,640 people will die from this disease. Because cancer doesn’t usually have any visible symptoms, treating it can become a challenge.
Fortunately, patients diagnosed with cancer have better chances of recovering because of hormone therapy. This is a type of systematic therapy that works by adding, blocking, or removing hormones from the patient’s body in order to slow down and stop the growth of cancer cells. Because some cancers are triggered by hormones found inside the human body, hormone replacement therapy is known to be one of the most effective treatments for breast, prostate, ovarian, and womb cancers.
For you to see the benefits of hormone therapy, it’s important that you’re well-aware of the technology behind it:
- If you have breast, prostate, ovarian, or womb cancer, your doctor will recommend you to undergo a hormone receptor test. This test aims to study the characteristics of the tumors present in your body and determine possible treatment options. This test can also identify whether or not the cancer cells in the body are sensitive to hormones.
- One of the biggest functions of the hormone receptor test is to measure the amount of proteins present inside the cancer tissues. Usually, naturally-occurring hormones, such as progesterone and estrogen, can bind with these proteins and help the cancer cells to grow and spread.
If your test comes out positive, then the hormones in your body play a role in the growth of the cancer cells. This means that your own hormones are triggering the growth and spread of cancer cells in your body. Once this happens, hormone therapy can be given in order to block these hormones and separate them from the cancer cells.
The blocking action of the hormone therapy can stop cancer cells from growing in the body, as well as lessen its activity and the gravity of its symptoms. To paint a clearer picture of how the therapy works, consider the points below:
- Blocks the hormones from growing: Cells contain “receptors” on the surface, and which bind with specific hormones. When this happens, cells are triggered to become reactive. Hormone therapy works by blocking this receptor using another compound in order to prevent the hormone from binding with the cells. Because of the compound provided in the therapy, the receptors become occupied, and the cell will no longer attach itself to the hormone to become active.
- Prevents the body from producing cancer-inducing hormones: Depending on the severity of the cancer cells in the body, this phase can be completed using medication to stop the production of hormones or through surgery to completely remove the organ that produces such hormone. For example, if you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, hormone therapy might involve removing your ovaries as these organs produce estrogen. Estrogen is one of the leading causes of breast cancer.
- Prevents the hormone receptors to function: The hormone therapy also works by eliminating the hormone receptors found in the cells of your body. Without this property, hormones can no longer attach itself to your cells, making it impossible to function and spread in your body.
On the other side of the coin, if the result of your hormone receptor test comes out negative, this means that your hormone does not affect the growth of cancer cells. In this case, you won’t be advised to undergo hormone therapy. Instead, you will be given other cancer treatments.
How Is Hormone Therapy Given?
There are different ways to administer hormone therapy. Depending on the type of cancer you have and the size of the tumors in your body, hormone therapy may either be given through oral medication, injection, or surgical intervention.
Although chemotherapy is one of the most common cancer treatments available today, a lot of people would opt to undergo hormone therapy, as this is less potent than the former. This means that the two can reduce the symptoms of cancer and prevent cancer cells from growing, but hormone therapy comes with fewer side effects than chemotherapy.
How Can You Maximize The Effects Of Hormone Therapy?
Contrary to popular belief, hormone therapy isn’t the be-all and end-all to a cancer patient’s dilemma. If you want to make the most out of this therapy and experience the results you are expecting, you should also make changes to your lifestyle and follow recommendations given by your doctor.
After undergoing hormone therapy, make sure to follow these strategies to maximize its effects and reduce risks:
- Seek regular follow-up care with your doctor: Regardless of the type of cancer you have, it’s always best to seek regular follow-up care with your doctor. The more frequent you visit your doctor after the therapy, the easier it’ll be for you to inform them if you are experiencing any side effects. Seeking follow-up care is also important as this enables you to ensure that the benefits actually outweigh the risks.
- Make healthier lifestyle choices: Although hormone therapy is already effective on its own, making healthier lifestyle choices can increase your chances of living a cancer-free life. Once you’re advised to undergo hormone therapy, exert time and effort to make healthier choices by adding more physical activities and sticking to a well-balanced diet in your lifestyle. If possible, you should start making these changes weeks or months before your therapy starts.
Talk To Your Doc
If you have been diagnosed with hormone-induced cancers, talk to your doctor about undergoing hormone therapy. Get as much information as you can about the treatment and inquire if your current health condition qualifies you for the treatment. Make sure that you also know what to expect before, during, and after the hormone therapy.
Once your doctor recommends you for the hormone therapy, exert effort to follow their orders, as well. This treatment can offer several benefits for cancer patients, and by complying with your doctor’s orders, you can experience enhanced effects, allowing for faster recovery.