Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer

Hormone therapy is used to treat hormone receptor positive breast cancer. This aims to block hormones from attaching to cancer cells by either blocking the body's production of estrogen or preventing estrogen from binding to cancer cells.

In this video, we review its benefits and side effects in breast cancer treatment.

Read the full video transcript below:

This video is an overview of hormone therapy for breast cancer. We'll keep it easy to understand, even if you're not a medical expert. 

Breast cancer comes in many different types, and one specific type is known as hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. This means that on the surface of these cancer cells, there are special proteins called hormone receptors. These hormone receptors can attach to estrogen and progesterone.

Estrogen can fuel the growth and spread of breast cancer. About 80% of breast cancers have estrogen receptors. 

There are drugs that doctors can use to block hormones from attaching to cancer cells. These medicines, called hormone therapy, are designed to target these receptors and, in simple terms, put a stop to the hormones that fuel the growth of this type of cancer. 

It can work in two ways: either by blocking the body's production of estrogen or by preventing estrogen from binding to cancer cells. In both cases, the goal is to slow down or even stop the cancer from growing and spreading.

So, what are the benefits of hormone therapy? 

It significantly lowers the risk of cancer from coming back after treatments like surgery. Also, compared to other treatments like chemotherapy, it generally comes with milder side effects. 

However, there are some side effects all patients should know about. 

Hormone therapy can bring on menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, and vaginal dryness. It might weaken your bones, which could increase the risk of osteoporosis. In some cases, certain hormone therapies could slightly raise the risk of heart problems. Weight gain is also possible.

Finally, there are some rare but more serious risks like blood clots and developing uterine cancer associated with hormone therapy. 

This is not medical advice. Talk to your doctor before making any medical decisions.