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How Does Hormone Therapy Work For Breast Cancer

Coping With Hormone Therapy Side

Do I Need Hormonal Therapy to Treat Breast Cancer?

Coping with a diagnosis of breast cancer is never easy, and the added stress of an early menopause brought on by treatment can make this particularly difficult.

You may find that going through the menopause prematurely can create feelings of loss, and you may even feel isolated from women your own age.

Some women may find it difficult to come to terms with the fact that they will not be able to start a family or have more children. Whatever your feelings, remember that you do not have to cope on your own. Your cancer specialist and breast care nurse are there to provide information and support to you and your family.

You might find it easier to share your feelings with someone who has had a similar experience to you.

Our Survivor Support programme can put you in touch with a trained volunteer who has been through a breast cancer diagnosis. Our trained volunteers are available to provide emotional and practical support to anyone going through or finished with their treatment.

When Should I See My Doctor

See your doctor or healthcare professional if you notice symptoms of possible breast cancer, such as a lump, pain, itch, nipple discharge or dimpling, or if you have any concerns about your breast cancer risk.

Your doctor or healthcare professional will assess you and work out if you need further tests. If required, they can refer you to a local service and provide necessary follow-up care.

Hormonal Therapy To Treat Metastatic Breast Cancer

Hormonal therapy medicines such as tamoxifen, the aromatase inhibitors , and Faslodex are used to help shrink or slow the growth of hormone-receptor-positive metastatic breast cancer. Hormonal therapy will not work on hormone-receptor-negative breast cancer.

Hormonal therapy medicines treat hormone-receptor-positive breast cancers in two ways:

Because it targets estrogen, hormonal therapy is also known as anti-estrogen therapy.

The American Society of Clinical Oncologists recommends hormonal therapy based on cancer stage and menopausal status. ASCO recommends that pre- or postmenopausal women diagnosed with advanced hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer consider taking an aromatase inhibitor after 2 to 5 years of tamoxifen, or whenever the cancer stops responding to tamoxifen. If the cancer stops responding to an aromatase inhibitor and tamoxifen, consider Faslodex.

Women taking hormonal therapy to treat metastatic hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer usually take hormonal therapy for as long as it works. If the cancer stops responding to one hormonal therapy medicine, your doctor usually will recommend a different hormonal therapy medicine.

To learn more about hormonal therapy, including possible side effects and how it’s taken, visit the Hormonal Therapy section.

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What Are Hormone Inhibitors And How Do They Work

Hormone inhibitors also target breast cancer cells with hormone receptors, but unlike hormone blockers, they work by reducing the bodys hormone production. When breast cancer cells are cut off from the food supply the tumor begins to starve and die.Generally, the benefits of using hormone therapy and chemotherapy together have a much greater combined effect than using either alone. If your breast cancer is positive for hormone receptors, your doctor may recommend both therapies.

The Link Between Hormones And Cancer

Hormonal Therapies for Breast Cancer Fact Sheet

Many glands throughout the body produce hormones, each of which has one or more jobs.

In women, the ovaries as well as fat and skin cells produce hormones called estrogen and progesterone.

These hormones contribute to a woman’s sexual characteristics and reproductive functions. They can also promote the growth of some breast cancer.

In men, the testicles and, to a smaller extent, the adrenal glands produce testosterone and dihydrotestosterone.

These hormones regulate a man’s sexual development and function. When the body makes too many of these hormones, they can cause cancer of the prostate.

In both sexes, hormonal abnormalities can cause kidney cancer.

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For The Population Studied As A Whole There Was An Overall Deterioration In The Quality Of Life At Two Years From Diagnosis This Deterioration Was Greater In Patients Who Had Received Hormone Therapy Especially After The Menopause By Contrast Chemotherapy Had A Bigger Effect On Quality Of Life In Non

It is important in the future that we are able to predict which women are going to develop severe symptoms with anti-hormonal treatment so that we can support them, added Dr Vaz-Luis. While it has been shown that hormone therapy provides a real benefit in reducing the relapse rate of hormone-dependent cancers which represent 75% of all breast cancers, the deterioration in quality of life may also have a negative effect on patient adherence to treatment. It is, therefore, important to offer them symptomatic treatment, in particular for menopausal symptoms, musculoskeletal pain, depression, severe fatigue and cognitive dysfunction and to combine this with supportive measures such as physical exercise and cognitive behaviour therapy.

What Is Hormone Therapy

Hormone therapy slows or stops the growth of hormone-sensitive tumors by blocking the bodys ability to produce hormones or by interfering with effects of hormones on breast cancer cells. Tumors that are hormone insensitive do not have hormone receptors and do not respond to hormone therapy.

Hormone therapy for breast cancer should not be confused with menopausal hormone therapy treatment with estrogen alone or in combination with progesterone to help relieve symptoms of menopause. These two types of therapy produce opposite effects: hormone therapy for breast cancer blocks the growth of HR-positive breast cancer, whereas MHT can stimulate the growth of HR-positive breast cancer. For this reason, when a woman taking MHT is diagnosed with HR-positive breast cancer she is usually asked to stop that therapy.

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Why Is Chemotherapy Still The Go

So why in the world are doctors continuing to prescribe a treatment that doesnt work on most cancers?

Read my post on The Business of Chemo.

When I was where you are, back in 2004, I also knew chemo was a toxic poison, which is why I didnt want to do it.

It didnt make sense to me that I could poison my body back to health.

Nevertheless, in the back of my mind it was my last resort if nothing else worked.

Today, as Im writing this post, I know many people , whose bodies have been wrecked by chemotherapy.

Theyve spent tens of thousands of dollars on these treatments and they still have cancer.

That is why I do what I do here on this site.

I am not a doctor and cannot give cancer treatment advice, but as a friend I can certainly share what I did.

Theres no law against that!

  • Ixabepilone
  • Eribulin

Although drug combinations are often used to treat early breast cancer, advanced breast cancer more often is treated with single chemo drugs. Still, some combinations, such as paclitaxel plus gemcitabine, are commonly used to treat advanced breast cancer.

For cancers that are HER2-positive, one or more drugs that target HER2 may be used with chemo.

Are There Complications Of Breast Cancer

Understanding hormone therapy for breast cancer video

Possible complications from breast cancer treatment include:

  • Lymphoedema in some cases, removing your lymph nodes may cause swelling, discomfort and pain in the arm, shoulder and upper body.
  • Early menopause certain treatments, especially chemotherapy and hormone therapy, can cause menopause symptoms, such as hot flushes, joint pain, or a change in sex drive, to occur earlier than usual.
  • Anxiety and depression research shows that anxiety and depression are common among women with breast cancer. One study found that up to 50 per cent of women with early breast cancer may experience anxiety and/or depression in the year after diagnosis.

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What To Expect After Chemo

Once youâre home, you need to take care of yourself and take steps to manage chemo side effects. These include:

  • Take medications the doctor prescribed for side effects.
  • Stay away from anyone with a cold or infection chemo makes it harder for your body to fight germs.
  • Drink lots of fluids for the first 8 hours to move the medicine through your body.
  • Manage bodily fluids and waste that may have traces of chemo. Usually, this means flushing the toilet twice.

Youâll see your doctor every 4 to 6 months for the next 5 years after treatment ends.

Surgical Removal Of The Ovaries

The operation to remove the ovaries is called oophorectomy. Surgical removal of the ovaries is a permanent way to reduce the levels of oestrogen.

It is a very effective treatment to stop early breast cancer returning or to slow the progress of metastatic cancer. This can also reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Surgery to remove the ovaries can be done with keyhole surgery or with an open operation .

Your surgeon will discuss with you the pros and cons of these different techniques. Oophorectomy is done under a general anaesthetic .

Usually the fallopian tubes are also removed but the uterus is left intact. After oophorectomy, the symptoms of menopause may come on suddenly. This is different to turning off the ovaries with medication which brings menopausal symptoms on gradually

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Less Common Types Of Hormone Therapy

Some other types of hormone therapy that were used more often in the past, but are rarely given now include:

  • Megestrol acetate , a progesterone-like drug
  • Androgens
  • High doses of estrogen

These might be options if other forms of hormone therapy are no longer working, but they can often cause side effects.

Learn More About How Hormone Therapy Is Used To Target Cancer Cells

Hormonal therapy

Hormone therapy may also be called endocrine therapy or hormone-blocking therapy.

Some cancers grow in response to particular hormones. These cancers are known as hormone-dependent cancers. They include some types of breast, uterine and prostate cancers. The aim of hormone therapy is the slow or stop the growth of hormone receptor positive cells.

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Social Role Of The Woman With Breast Cancer

The marketing of breast cancer awareness allows people to incorporate support for awareness into their personal identity or lifestyle. Socially aware, pro-woman individuals, businesses, politicians, and organizations use pink ribbons and other trappings of breast cancer awareness to signal their support for women, health, and mainstream medicine.

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Questions To Ask Your Doctor About Chemotherapy

Patients are sometimes reluctant to ask questions, but I tell my patients that any question is an important question when it comes to their cancer care. Oncologists deal with cancer every day, but its all new to the patient. Getting your questions answered will help you make informed decisions about your care.

Think about your questions before your appointment. Write them down and bring them with you. I also recommend bringing a family member or friend to take notes during the appointment because its easy to get overwhelmed by information.

Here are some questions to consider asking your doctor about chemotherapy:

  • What drug or drugs are you recommending?
  • Whats the goal of this treatment?
  • How long will I be on it?
  • How do I receive it?
  • How often do I have to come in? Can someone come in with me?
  • If Im taking this drug at home, where do I store it? How often do I take it? What if I forget to take it?
  • What are the potential side effects? Are you going to give me anything ahead of time to deal with them?
  • Am I likely to have long-term side effects from this drug?
  • Who do I call if Im at home and I have a question?
  • What kind of support is there to help me through this treatment?
  • Is there any support for my caregivers?

If you think of more questions after your appointment, call back and ask them.

If you start chemotherapy and your experience is different from what you expected, talk to your care team. They may be able to make changes that help you.

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Feminism And The Breast Cancer Wars

The breast cancer wars were a series of conflicts between advocates and others about the causes, treatments, and societal responses to breast cancer. Women in the late 1980s and 1990s followed the successful approach used by ACT-UP and other AIDS awareness groups, of staging media-friendly protests to increase political pressure. Prominent women who made the wrong choice were publicly excoriated, as when Nancy Reagan chose mastectomy over lumpectomy followed by six weeks of radiation therapy. The abortionâbreast cancer hypothesis was formulated when an early study showed a connection between voluntary abortions and the development of breast cancer in premenopausal women, which pitted breast cancer advocates against abortion rights advocates.

Are There Risks To Taking Tamoxifen

Does Hormone Replacement Therapy Cause Breast Cancer? Estrogen Effects on Women!

Yes. The risks include:

  • Fertility. Tamoxifen can increase your fertility for a short time. But it might harm a growing baby, so itâs important to use some form of barrier birth control while youâre taking it, like condoms or a diaphragm. Donât use birth control pills. They can change how the drug works and affect the breast cancer. Tell your doctor right away if you think youâve become pregnant while youâre taking tamoxifen.
  • Blood clots. Women who take tamoxifen may have a slightly higher risk of blood clots in their lungs or large veins. Itâs an even bigger risk for smokers.
  • Stroke.
  • Uterine cancer or sarcoma. The drug may make a woman more likely to get these diseases. But this risk is small, and it may be outweighed by the benefits of tamoxifen for breast cancer treatment. Talk to your doctor to know for sure.
  • Cataracts. Tamoxifen seems to give some women a higher chance of having this condition, which clouds the lens inside the eye. People have also reported eye problems such as corneal scarring or retinal changes.
  • Medications. Tamoxifen may affect how other drugs work in your body.

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Breast Cancer Hormone Therapy: How It Works Side Effects And More

Breast cancer is a malignant tumor that begins and grows in the breast. Malignant tumors can grow and invade nearby tissues or travel to distant organs.

This progression is called metastasis. Breast cancer treatment aims to remove these tumors and prevent future tumor growth.

Hormone therapy is one type of breast cancer treatment. Often combined with additional treatments, its considered an adjuvant therapy.

For metastatic disease, adjuvant therapy can be used alone or in people who cant tolerate surgery or chemotherapy. Other treatments include:

  • radiation

In certain breast cancers, the female hormones estrogen and progesterone can stimulate cancer cell growth. Cancers that are hormone receptor-positive grow when hormones attach to the cancer cell receptors.

Approximately two-thirds of all breast cancers are hormone receptor-positive, according to the .

Hormone therapy aims to prevent estrogen from binding to the receptors to slow or prevent cancer growth.

There are several types of hormone therapy to treat breast cancer, including:

What Are The Side Effects

Hormone therapy is a systemic treatment, which means it can affect cells throughout the body.

As each hormone in the body has a specific function, altering the balance of hormones in the body can cause side effects. Whether or not you experience side effects, and how severe they are, depends on the type of hormone you are taking, the dose, and how long you take the treatment. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking hormone therapy.

Common side effects include tiredness, hot flushes, mood changes, weight gain and sweating. Hormone therapy can also affect the fertility of both women and men, bring on menopause, and have an impact on your sexuality.

Hormone therapy may also cause bones to weaken and break more easily . Talk to your doctor about having a bone density test or taking medicine to prevent your bones from becoming weak. Regular exercise, eating calcium-rich foods and getting enough vitamin D will also help keep your bones strong.

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Chemotherapy For Metastatic Breast Cancer

Advances in treatment are making it possible for women with metastatic breast cancer to live for many years. New drug therapies can not only slow down or stop a tumors growth but also keep symptoms at bay.

Which treatment your doctor recommends will vary based on your medical history, age, and breast cancer type, among other factors. Combinations of drugs are commonly prescribed for women with early-stage disease. Most women with advanced breast cancer generally receive only one drug at a time.

Chemotherapy drugs that MSK doctors commonly prescribe for advanced breast cancer include:

Women with advanced disease can also benefit from genomic testing. This is also called tumor sequencing or molecular profiling. It is offered to all MSK patients with metastatic breast cancer. Genomic testing involves looking at the cancer cells to see if there are any genetic mutations that could be linked to the specific type of breast cancer you have.

Our experts use a highly sophisticated testing approach developed by MSK researchers called MSK-IMPACT. The information gained from MSK-IMPACT can help us personalize your care. We can rule out drug therapies that may not work for you or sometimes recommend cutting-edge clinical trials designed to target the specific mutations in your tumor.

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How Does Chemotherapy Work For Breast Cancer

Hormonal Therapies for Breast Cancer Fact Sheet

There are several different types of targeted therapies available for the treatment of breast cancer.

Trastuzumab and pertuzumab are the two most common monoclonal antibodies used to treat HER2-positive breast cancer. These medications are typically administered through an IV infusion and are used in combination with chemotherapy.

After chemotherapy has finished, treatment with medications like Herceptin generally continues every 3 weeks over a total period of 1 year.

Neratinib is another type of targeted therapy, which is taken orally and is designed to help prevent the recurrence of HER2-positive breast cancer for patients whove completed 1 year of Herceptin.

Other drugs like lapatinib and tucatinib , both oral medications, and ado-trastuzumab emtansine , which is administered through an IV, are also available for the treatment of advanced HER2-positive breast cancer.

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