Hormonal therapy is a cancer treatment that uses hormones to target and kill cancer cells. This therapy aims to lower the levels of hormones in the body or to block the action of hormones on cancer cells. Hormones are natural substances produced by the body and play an essential role in regulating many of its functions. There are many types of hormonal therapy, which can be used alone or in combination with other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
How Hormonal Therapy Works
Hormonal therapy works by either lowering the levels of hormones in the body or blocking the hormone receptors on cancer cells. This prevents the hormones from binding to the receptors and stimulating the growth of cancer cells. In some cases, hormonal therapy can also cause cancer cells to die.
Types of Hormonal Therapy
There are many different types of hormonal therapies, and they can be classified according to their mechanism of action. The main types of hormonal therapies include:
Anti-androgens: These drugs lower the level of male hormones in the body (androgens), which can help to treat breast, prostate, and endometrial cancers. Examples of anti-androgens include flutamide, bicalutamide, and nilutamide.
Aromatase inhibitors: These drugs block estrogen production by inhibiting the aromatase enzyme. Aromatase inhibitors can be used to treat breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Examples of aromatase inhibitors include letrozole, anastrozole, and exemestane.
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogues: These drugs work by mimicking GnRH, which causes the body to produce less testosterone and estrogen. GnRH analogues can treat breast, ovarian, prostate, and endometrial cancers. Examples of GnRH analogues include goserelin and leuprolide.
Progestins: These drugs mimic the hormone progesterone, which can help to treat breast cancer. Examples of progestins include megestrol acetate and medroxyprogesterone acetate.
Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs): These drugs bind to estrogen receptors on cancer cells and either stimulate or block their action. SERMs can be used to treat breast cancer. Examples of SERMs include tamoxifen and raloxifene.”