Can hormone therapy treat advanced prostate cancer?

What type of hormones are used in treating prostate cancer? 

In late stage prostate cancer, instead of removing the testes, the administration of estrogen may be used. The female hormone counteracts or neutralizes the effects of testosterone. Among the hormones that may be prescribed are DES, E Stinyl, TACE, and flutamide.

Can hormone treatment cure cancer of the prostate? 

No. Hormone treatment does not cure cancer of the prostate but is often used to control the activity of the disease and to lessen the pain. Many patients also recover appetite, gain weight, and return to normal activities as a result of hormone treatment. The tumor often shrinks, as well. However, in some patients, for reasons as yet not understood, the hormones may lose their effectiveness and the original symptoms may return.

Hormone Therapy for Prostate Cancer

What is LHRH? 

These initials stand for leutenizing hormone releasing hormone, a hypothalamic hormone that controls sex hormones in men and women. A compound that is structurally similar to LHRH, known as LHRH agonist, when given on a longterm basis, suppresses the production of the male hormone testosterone and may be as effective as estrogen therapy or orchiectomy in blocking the production of male hormones, but without the cardiovascular and psychological side effects associated with conventional hormone treatment. In other investigational treatments, LHRH agonists have been combined with flutamide, a pure anti androgen drug, in an attempt to suppress all male hormones, including the low levels of androgen produced by the adrenal glands. The FDA has approved the LHRH agonist leuprolide as a treatment for advanced prostate cancer. It is being marketed by TAP Pharmaceuticals under the brand name Lupron. The drug's only major side effect appears to be hot flashes.

Is the pituitary gland sometimes removed in treatment of prostate cancer? 

Yes. Some research has indicated that the removal of the pituitary gland, called a transphenoidal hypophysectomy, can arrest the spread of prostate cancer in 50 percent of patients. Thanks to a relatively new operation, developed because of the high risk of previous pituitary surgery, which required opening the skull to reach the pituitary gland, removal has been simplified. The pituitary gland is removed by an operation performed through the upper gum and into the nasal passage to the pituitary below the brain. An unexpected result of the surgery is the disappearance of pain in about 75 percent of patients. The pain disappearance usually occurs within 48 hours and is usually permanent.

If a man has undergone surgery for a tumor of the prostate, does this mean he can no longer have prostate cancer? 

No. Most operations performed for prostate problems other than cancer do not remove the whole prostate. Unless a man has undergone a total prostatectomy, he should remember that it is still possible for him to develop prostate cancer. Remaining prostatic tissue should be examined as part of every annual physical examination.

Using Hormones to Treat Prostate Cancer

Are blood transfusions needed during prostate operations? 

It depends upon the surgery. For most operations, there is considerable blood loss, which is replaced by blood transfusion.

Is pain very great after prostatectomy? 

Usually, moderate pain is felt.

How is the urine drained after the operation? 

Usually by a catheter placed in the urethra or bladder.


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