Review: Hormonal Therapy

A hormone is an internally secreted compound, formed in endocrine glands, that affects the functions of specifically receptive organs or tissues.

Pharmaceutical hormones are synthetic substances used in medicine to act like similar compounds when introduced into the body.

Hormones can be used to alter the growth of cancer. Some tissues, such as prostate or breast, depend on hormones to develop. When a malignancy arises in these tissues, it is usually hormone responsive. In these cases, manipulation of hormones may affect cancer by slowing down or even stopping the growth of cancer cells. Hormonal therapy is often used to prevent or delay recurrence of cancer after other modalities of treatment have removed the gross primary tumor and chemotherapy or radiation therapy have treated systemic and regional micrometastases.

An anti-hormone is an agent that works against a hormone or a hormone's response in the body. Many anti-hormone agents have been developed that interfere with the interaction between the hormone molecule and its receptor site that stimulates cell growth and proliferation.

Endocrine surgery is a surgical procedure that is performed to achieve a hormonal or anti-hormonal effect in the body.

Surgical procedures to remove hormone-producing tissues were among the first attempts at endocrine therapy of cancer. Radiotherapy aimed at hormone-producing organs has been used successfully to suppress hormone production in patients who were not surgical candidates. The use of drugs to suppress hormone production has, to a great extent, replaced surgical approaches to endocrine therapy for breast cancer. However, orchiectomy remains a common approach for the hormonal management of prostate cancer.

Updated: December 21, 2023