Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer
Hormonal therapy works against hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. Breast cells contain receptors which respond to circulating hormones in the blood. Somce breast cancers can also contain hormone receptors. These are then called hormone receptor positive breast cancer.
Both estrogen and progesterone hormone can attach to breast cancer cells which are receptor positive and affect their ability to multiply, but it is the estrogen receptors which are more sensitive .
About 75% of all breast cancers are hormone positive. Of these, about 60% are both estrogen receptor positive (ER+) and progesterone receptor positive (PR+). The rest are only estrogen receptor positive (ER+).
The purpose of hormone therapy - also called hormonal therapy or hormone treatment - is to block or or remove the attachment between the receptors and the hormones and thus prevent growth of the cancer cells.
When is Hormone Therapy for Breast cancer Advised?
Hormone Therapy for breast cancer is given in the following situations:
- Before breast surgery to shrink the tumor and make the surgery easier for both the patient as well as for the surgeon.
- After surgery to prevent recurrence in hormone receptor positive breast cancer.
- As a preventive in women with very high risk for breast cancer.
- Together with surgery in which part of the breast is spared (like lumpectomy)
- Together with chemotherapy.
- In recurrent or metastatic breast cancer.
Aim of Hormone Therapy
The aim of hormone therapy is to prevent stimulation of breast cancer cells by estrogen and progesterone- mainly estrogen. So, the drugs act on the cancer in two ways:
- Either lowers the amount of the hormone estrogen in the body.
- Or blocks the action of estrogen on breast cancer cells.