Breast Cancer Hormone Treatment

by Sam Malone

Breast cancer hormone therapy is a cancer treatment that gets rid of hormones or obstructs their activity and retards cancer cells from developing. The aim of breast cancer hormone therapy- also referred to as hormonal therapy or hormone treatment - is to impede the movement of, or eliminate the hormones responsible for the growth and spread of cancer.

Hormones are internal secretions brought about by the glands in the body and disseminated in the blood flowing through the circulatory system. Some hormones can stimulate certain cancers to develop. If screening tools detect that cancer cells have areas where the hormones attach (receptors), then specific therapies are used such as drugs, surgery, or radiation therapy to bring down the yield of hormones or obstruct them from developing. One such known hormone, estrogen, which causes breast cancers to develop, is produced chiefly by the ovaries. Breast cancer therapy or treatment to stop the ovaries from producing the hormone estrogen is known as ovarian ablation.

Breast cancer hormone with tamoxifen is often administered to affected individuals who are in the early phases of breast cancer and those with metastasis tumors in the breast (malignant tumors that have spread to other areas in the body). Breast cancer hormone therapy with tamoxifen or estrogens can work on cells all over the body. Some experts believe that hormone therapy with tamoxifen or estrogen might increase the prospects of developing cancer of the endometrium. It is strongly advised that women undergoing breast cancer hormone therapy with tamoxifen have a pelvic examination annually to detect early signs of cancer in the area. If there are instances of vaginal bleeding, apart from menstrual bleeding, it must be reported to the physician immediately.

Breast cancer hormone therapy with an aromatase inhibitor is another option, employed by oncologists, which is administered to certain postmenopausal women who are experiencing hormone-dependent breast cancer. In case of hormonal-dependent breast cancer, the hormone estrogen causes the growth of the cancerous tumors. Breast cancer hormone therapy with aromatase inhibitors diminishes the body's yield of estrogen by immobilizing an enzyme known as aromatase from converting the androgenic hormone into estrogen.

To treat early stages of breast cancer, specific aromatase inhibitors might be used as supportive therapy instead of tamoxifen or an estrogen antagonist or after a couple of years of using tamoxifen. Experts are testing aromatase inhibitors in clinical trials to treat metastatic breast cancer, in order to equate them to breast cancer hormone therapy with tamoxifen.

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