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Urologic Oncology: Medical Oncology

Hormone therapy keeps prostate cancer cells from getting the male hormones (androgens) they need to grow. The testicles are the body’s main source of the male hormone testosterone. The adrenal gland makes a small amount of testosterone.

Hormone treatment uses drugs or surgery:

  • Drugs: Your doctor may suggest a drug that can block natural hormones.
  • Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) agonists: These drugs can prevent the testicles from making testosterone. Examples are leuprolide and goserelin.
  • Antiandrogens: These drugs can block the action of male hormones. Examples are flutamide, bicalutamide, and nilutamide.
  • Other drugs: Some drugs can prevent the adrenal gland from making testosterone. Examples are ketoconazole and aminoglutethimide.
  • Surgery: Surgery to remove the testicles is called orchiectomy.

After orchiectomy or treatment with an LHRH agonist, your body no longer gets testosterone from the testicles. However, the adrenal gland still produces a small amount of male hormones. You may receive an antiandrogen to block the action of the male hormones that remain. This combination of treatments is known as total androgen blockade. Studies have not shown whether total androgen blockade is more effective than surgery or an LHRH agonist alone.

Doctors can usually control prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body with hormone therapy. The cancer often does not grow for several years. But in time, most prostate cancers can grow with very little or no male hormones. Hormone therapy is no longer helpful. At that time, your doctor may suggest other forms of treatment that are under study.