Certain breast tumors require hormones to grow. Through hormone therapy doctors try to keep cancer cells from obtaining those hormones. There are many different types of hormonal therapy, each working in a slightly different way. Doctors often subscribe hormone therapy after surgery and radiotherapy, or chemotherapy, to reduce the chance of the cancer from returning. This form of therapy is only effective on women whose cancer cells have receptors for estrogen and/or progesterone. This is classified as being estrogen-receptor positive (ER+) or progesterone-receptor positive (PR+).
There are many issues to take into account when choosing which type of hormone therapy a patient should use, including:
- the stage and grade of the cancer
- which other treatments are being used
- whether the cancer cells are HER2-positive
Unlike chemotherapy, hormone therapy is a long-term therapy, sometimes lasting for more than 5 years. Not all women have side effects from hormone therapy, but the side effects that do exist differ per drug, click on the above drugs for more information.
Biological Therapy is a form of breast cancer treatment that strengthens the patients’ immune system. This form of therapy helps fight cancer, but it also controls side effects from other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy. Many of the biological treatments are still in the experimental stage.