Hormone therapy for prostate cancer

As hormones can be a source of fuel for prostate cancer, hormone therapies can be used to block or lower your body’s natural hormones to stop your prostate cancer from growing or returning. Hormone therapy treatment for prostate cancer is also known as Androgen Deprivation Therapy (ADT) and is used to reduce the amount of testosterone in the body. It may be delivered before, during or after other treatments such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy and is commonly given as a tablet or injection.

Common hormone therapy medicines

There are several different types of hormone therapy drugs used to treat prostate cancer.

Gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) antagonists

These are a group of drugs that work by blocking gonadotrophin hormones which are produced by the pituitary gland within the brain. Gonadotrophin hormones are responsible for controlling the production of testosterone. Blocking them prevents the production and activity of testosterone, stopping the hormones  from fueling the growth of prostate cancer cells.

  • Degarelix – This drug is given by injection under the skin in the abdominal area each month and is used to treat locally advanced or metastatic prostate cancer

Gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists

leuprorelin, goserelin, buserelin, triptorelin

These drugs work by mimicking the action of the gonadotrophin hormone, which then signals your body to stop the production of testosterone. GnRH agonists are given by injection or as an implant placed under the skin in the abdominal area, arm or buttocks every month to six months. When they are first given, they usually cause a short-term increase in the production of testosterone which is known as a tumour flare. Your doctor may prescribe a course of anti-androgen tablets to prevent this.


apalutamide, bicalutamide, cyproterone, enzalutamide, flutamide, nilutamide

These drugs are also known as androgen receptor antagonists. They work by attaching themselves to protein receptors on the surface of prostate cancer cells, which prevents testosterone attaching to them and stimulating their growth. They are often used in combination with GnRH agonist drugs and are given orally as tablets or capsules once daily.

  • Abiraterone – This is a newer type of anti-androgen drug that stops the production of testosterone by the adrenal glands. It is usually given when other anti-androgen drugs have not been effective or are no longer effective. It is taken orally as a tablet once daily and is usually taken together with a steroid drug such as prednisolone to reduce possible side effects
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