Female (oestrogen) and male (androgen) sex hormones can stimulate the growth of certain cancers of the breast or the prostate. These are called hormone-sensitive or hormone-dependent cancers. In such cases your doctor will prescribe an anti-hormone treatment (wrongly referred to as a hormone treatment) which either stops your body making the hormones or blocks their action, thus preventing them from stimulating the growth of tumours.
Depending on your situation, treatment is prescribed for several years in one of the following forms:
- A pill a day
- A subcutaneous injection once a month, every three months or every six months
- An intramuscular injection once a month.
The side effects can be compared to the symptoms of the menopause or andropause: hot flashes, night sweats, dryness of the skin or the mucous membrane, loss of libido, mood swings, muscle loss particularly for men, acceleration of osteoporosis.
Certain medications also cause joint pain, thrombosis or vaginal bleeding. If any of these symptoms occur, tell your doctor about it without delay.
You are advised not to become pregnant during treatment. Discuss this with your doctor.
Beware of self-medication: some ‘natural’ medicines or lubricating gels contain hormones or substances that stimulate the production of hormones. That is also the case with certain foodstuffs such as soya, sage, rye, flaxseed and pulses.
- Take the treatment at precise and regular intervals. That way the dose in your blood remains constant. If you have forgotten to take your oral medication and more than 12 hours have gone by, take the next pill at the usual time without making up for the missed dose.
- Regular physical activity will prevent muscle loss and osteoporosis.
- Eat a balanced diet to ensure sufficient calcium and protein intake to combat osteoporosis.
Use simple reminders to help you not to forget your medicine: set the alarm on your clock, telephone or watch, keep your pills near your toothbrush, put a glass of water on the bathroom shelf, use a pill dispenser, keep spare pills in your handbag (useful on a journey).
The leaflet Sexualité et fertilité (FR) [Sexuality and fertility] for additional advice about intimate relations.
Download the sheet Anti-hormone treatment