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Hormone Therapy for Prostate Cancer

Also known as androgen deprivation therapy or ADT, hormone therapy is used to stop testosterone from being released or to prevent it from acting on prostate cells. Find out if this is a treatment option for you.

Stethoscope, syringe and a flyer with a title Hormone Therapy

Prostate cancer is fueled by hormones called androgens. The primary male androgen is testosterone. Hormone therapy, also called androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), stops or slows the body’s ability to make testosterone. The goal is to stop tumor growth and/or shrink the tumor.

In many cases, prostate cancer tumors respond to the removal of testosterone. However, some cancer cells grow independently of testosterone and remain unaffected by this treatment. These hormone-independent cells continue to progress and hormone therapy will have less of an impact on the tumor over time.

For this reason, hormone therapy can't stop cancer. However, it is an important part of the treatment regimen in most cases during recurrent or advanced prostate cancer.

Is hormone therapy right for you?

Hormone therapy has long been an important treatment for men with advanced prostate cancer. It is increasing in use before, during and/or after other treatments. Hormone therapy may be used:

  • before radiation to try to shrink the tumor
  • if your prostate cancer returns after surgery or radiation
  • if your prostate cancer has spread (metastasized)

Hormone therapy is usually used during a time of rising PSA. But be sure to form a team of doctors and get opinions on when it might be best for your individual case.

Types of hormone therapy & side effects

The most commonly used types of hormone therapy include anti-androgens, luteinizing hormone treatment, and inhibitors. Since hormone therapy is a common treatment, we have an understanding of their side effects which can include cardiovascular (heart) problems, erectile dysfunction, hot flashes, weight gain, and changes in bone density. Learn more about the different types and side effects below.

Woman with long brown hair in a white coat, Dr. Alicia Morgans

What you need to know about ADT

Dr. Alicia Morgans, Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School, Medical Oncologist at Dana-Farber and Chair of ZERO’s Medical Advisory Board, addresses how ADT is used to treat prostate cancer. Dr. Morgans also discusses who can benefit from ADT, how to manage side effects, and what questions to ask your doctor. 

Additional Resources