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Understanding Hormonal Therapy for Metastatic Breast Cancer

Dr. Tower highlights the various hormonal therapies used in treating metastatic breast cancer.

Decatur, TX – January 17, 2020 – Treatment for metastatic breast cancer is administered to ensure a patient can survive longer with the disease, experiences fewer side effects, and enjoys a quality life. Currently, there is no possible cure for metastatic breast cancer. Treatments given depend on several factors such as the gene mutations in the tumor, levels of HER2 and/or hormone receptors, and other organs that the cancer has spread to, and more. 

“Oncologists often work together in a multidisciplinary system to develop appropriate treatment plans for patients,” explained Dr. Tower. “Treatment options for metastatic breast cancer vary. Some, like hormonal therapy, is ideal for hormone receptor-positive breast cancers.”

Here are the various options for hormonal therapy for breast cancer:

  • Aromatase inhibitors (AIs) – Aromatase inhibitors can reduce the amount of oxygen produced by tissue by blocking the aromatase enzyme. The enzyme changes androgens into estrogen. Aromatase inhibitors include letrozole, exemestane, and anastrozole (Arimidex).
  • Tamoxifen (Soltamox) – This is a drug that prevents estrogen for binding to the breast cancer cells. It is an oral drug used on all breast cancer patients. It helps to improve cholesterol levels and bone health.
  • Ovarian suppression – This can be used together with tamoxifen, AI, or fulvestrant to cause temporary menopause by stopping ovaries from making estrogen. They include leuprolide or goserelin. Surgery can also stop estrogen production permanently. Ovarian suppression treats hormone receptor-positive metastatic breast cancers in younger women.
  • Fulvestrant (Faslodex) – This is a selective estrogen receptor downregulator (SERD) that helps to prevent the ability of estrogen attaching to estrogen receptors. It is used only in women of menopausal age.

“Hormonal therapy helps to reduce the levels of progesterone and estrogen in the body to block them from reaching cancer cells,” continued Dr. Tower. “This will prevent cancer cells from using the hormones to grow and multiply. Hormone therapy can be combined with other targeted therapies to treat metastatic breast cancer. “However, it cannot be used with chemotherapy.

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