June 4, 2019

What you need to know before starting hormone therapy

Hormone therapy blocks your testosterone, a hormone known to stimulate the growth of prostate cancer. Although it is a treatment of reference, especially if you have advanced prostate cancer, hormone therapy is not without side effects. In fact, it is the lowering of your testosterone levels that is responsible for them. This is what you need to know before starting hormone therapy.

For many men with prostate cancer, short-term or long-term hormonal therapy, combined or not with another treatment (eg, radiotherapy), offers hope for control of the disease and longer life.

Whether they are physical such as hot flushes, loss of libido, weight gain around the abdomen or fatigue, hormone therapy also causes side effects that you do not see: increased sugar level, bad cholesterol (LDL), blood pressure and decreased bone density and muscle mass. It is for these reasons that we often refer to an increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and osteoporosis when we talk about side effects related to this treatment.

At this time, it is not possible to predict how severely any individual will be affected by lowering testosterone with hormone therapy, but work is being done to find ways to help predict who might be affected by which effects.

Changes in diet and exercise have been shown to relieve many of the side effects of ADT. Before beginning hormone therapy, every man should discuss the effects of testosterone loss with his doctor and nutritionist, so he can alter his lifestyle to accommodate or head off the changes.

The webinar Prostate Cancer: Is your heart at risk? addresses this subject (in French).

What you can do now
Be sure to download and print both leaflets; one is for you (the blue one) while the other is for your family doctor (the purple one). Share the contents with your life partner and family. Also, share the other one with your family doctor who will play a key role in your care. Do not hesitate to ask for help!


Take the time to visit each of our pages on this website, as well as our YouTube channel, in order to get familiar with the disease with our expert lectures, our section on available resources, the support that is offered to you.

Do you have any questions or concerns? Above all, do not hesitate. Contact us at 1 855 899-2873 to discuss with a nurse specializing in uro-oncology. It's simple and free, like all our services.

Watch the webinar on this topic with Carole Lambert, Radiation-oncologist at the CHUM
Please note that it is currently available in French only on our Facebook page and our YouTube channel.

Pages of our site that might interest you
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Our publications and free books

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Sources and references
Your role while on hormone therapy for prostate cancer
Carole Lambert, radiation-oncologist, Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal and Jean C. Grégoire, cardiologist, Institut de Cardiologie de Montréal

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