Prostate Cancer Hormone Therapy treatment

What are hormones?

Hormones are produced by endocrine organs and they act as signalling molecules in the body; transmitting instructions that help to maintain the status quo of the human body.

Male sex hormones

The testicles and the adrenal glands are the main area for the production of ‘male’ sex hormones known as androgens, such as testosterone. One of the functions these hormones are responsible for is the development and maintenance of the prostate gland. The prostate has receptors on its surface that are able to detect testosterone levels; once the testosterone binds (signals) to the prostate it sends the message for the prostate to grow.

An effective form of prostate cancer treatment is the lowering of testosterone levels; indeed it was demonstrated by Doctor Huggins in 1941 that the removal of a man’s testicles (orchiectomy) could cause prostate cancer to go into remission, however, because testosterone is also produced in the adrenal glands most patients who underwent this procedure had a recurrence of the disease at a later stage.

The production of the testosterone hormone within the testicles is under the control of other hormones such as Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone, which is produced in the hypothalamus and Luteinizing hormone, which is produced in the pituitary gland. Following the discovery by Doctor Huggins that testosterone from the adrenal gland could also affect the growth of the prostate, prostate cancer hormonal treatment drugs were developed that deactivated the hormone that was produced there.

Prostate cancer hormonal treatment

This procedure - hormone therapy for prostate cancer - is usually given to patients whose Prostate specific antigens are going up following surgery or the prostate cancer radiation treatment brachytherapy. Although prostate cancer hormonal treatment does not cure prostate cancer it can help to prolong life by up to ten years and can greatly increase the quality of the life of the patient.

The use of hormones is often used for people with advanced prostate cancer (where the disease has spread beyond the prostate) and for people where surgery may not be suitable. Hormones are also often used before surgery to reduce the size of the tumour.

© Prostate Cancer Guide inc. 2006 - 2015