Hormone Treatment

Below is information provided by the NHS to better understand breast cancer symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. 

Hormone treatment

Some breast cancers are stimulated to grow by the hormones oestrogen or progesterone, which are found naturally in your body. These are known as hormone receptor-positive cancers.

Hormone therapy lowers the levels of oestrogen or progesterone hormones in your body or stops their effects.

The type of hormone therapy you have will depend on the stage and grade of the cancer, which hormone it's sensitive to, your age, whether you have experienced the menopause, and what other type of treatment you're having.

You'll probably have hormone therapy after surgery and chemotherapy, but it's sometimes given before surgery to shrink a tumour and make it easier to remove.

Hormone therapy may be used as the only treatment for breast cancer if your general health prevents you having surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

In most cases, you'll need to take hormone therapy for 5 years or more after having surgery.

If the type of breast cancer you have is not sensitive to hormones, hormone therapy will have no effect.

Tamoxifen

Tamoxifen stops oestrogen from binding to oestrogen-receptor-positive cancer cells. It's taken every day as a tablet or liquid.

Aromatase inhibitors

If you have experienced the menopause, you may be offered an aromatase inhibitor.

This type of medicine blocks aromatase, a substance that helps the body to produce oestrogen after the menopause. Before the menopause, oestrogen is made by the ovaries.

3 aromatase inhibitors may be offered. These are anastrozole, exemestane and letrozole. These are taken as a tablet once a day.

Ovarian ablation or suppression

In women who have not yet experienced the menopause, oestrogen is produced by the ovaries.

Ovarian ablation or suppression stops the ovaries working and producing oestrogen.

Ablation can be done using surgery or radiotherapy. It permanently stops the ovaries from working and means you'll experience the menopause early.

Ovarian suppression involves using a medicine called goserelin, which is a luteinising hormone-releasing hormone agonist (LHRHa).

Your periods will stop while you're taking it, although they should start again once your treatment is complete.

If you're approaching the menopause (around the age of 50), your periods may not start again after you stop taking goserelin.

Goserelin comes as an injection you have once a month.

Want to know more?

For more information click through the the NHS website and if you notice any changes in your breasts or are worried at all please contact your GP.

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