Testosterone is one type of male hormone or androgen. It is produced mainly in the testis and in small amounts by the adrenal glands. The natural production of testosterone causes the normal growth and function of the prostate gland. When a prostate cancer is present, testosterone may also cause some prostate cancer cells to grow.
The objective of hormone therapy is to reduce the level of male hormones circulating in the body so that the prostate cancer shrinks or grows more slowly. This effect will help to relieve any symptoms that the prostate cancer may have caused, such as pain or difficulty with urination. It may also stop the growth of cancer cells that may have spread to other parts of the body.
Hormone therapy is used when the cancer has spread beyond the prostate and may be used with surgery and external beam therapy. Some prostate cancers do not respond hormonal therapy.
There are several methods used to reduce production of testosterone:
- Orchiectomy is surgical removal to the testicles
- Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) analogs are drugs that stop the testicles from producing testosterone.
- Anti-androgen drugs blocks the adrenal glands from producing testosterone. They are often used with LHRH analogs to completely block the action of testosterone.
- Other hormones and medications may be used to counteract the production of testosterone.
Be sure to talk with your doctor about any questions or concerns you may have about hormone therapy.