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Hormonal therapy

Hormones are chemicals that travel in the blood and control the activity or growth of certain cells. Some cancer cells need hormones to grow. Hormonal therapy is treatment that adds, blocks or removes hormones to slow or stop the growth of cancer cells that need hormones to grow.

Hormonal therapy changes hormone levels in the body. There are 3 ways to change hormone levels:

  • remove the gland or organ that makes the hormone
  • treat the gland or organ with radiation to destroy hormone-producing cells
  • take hormones or other drugs that interfere with or stop the production of the hormone

Hormonal therapy is often combined with other cancer treatments. Sometimes it’s used before or after other treatments.

Hormonal therapy is also called:

  • hormone withdrawal therapy
  • hormone manipulation
  • endocrine therapy

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Great progress has been made

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Some cancers, such as thyroid and testicular, have survival rates of over 90%. Other cancers, such as pancreatic, brain and esophageal, continue to have very low survival rates.

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