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What to Expect After Hormone Treatment for Prostate Cancer

Talk with your doctor the side effects you might have based on the type of hormone treatment you choose.

Common side effects of LHRH analog, LHRH antagonists, and orchiectomies

The side effects for these treatments are similar. Most men will not have all of these side effects. Here's an overview of what you may expect afterward:

  • Less sexual desire, referred to as a decreased libido

  • Inability to have an erection, called impotence or erectile dysfunction

  • Hot flashes

  • Breast soreness

  • Breast growth

  • Changes in facial hair

  • Reduced mental sharpness

  • Fatigue

  • Depression

  • Muscle loss

  • Weight gain

  • Bone loss, called osteoporosis

When you first start taking an LHRH agonist, your cancer symptoms may get temporarily worse. This is called a tumor flare. Your doctor may give you an antiandrogen to reduce or block a flare response.

Coping with osteoporosis as a result of treatment

These treatments can weaken your bones and lead to a disease called osteoporosis. A DEXA scan is painless test that shows the density of your bones. Talk with your doctor about whether you should have a DEXA scan before getting one of these treatments. This can give you a baseline reading. Then talk with your doctor about how often you should have a DEXA scan after getting one of these treatments. Here are some other actions you can take to reduce your risk for osteoporosis:

  • Exercise regularly. Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, is particularly good for your bones.

  • Limit your consumption of caffeine.

  • Drink nonfat milk or eat dairy products every day to get calcium to help your bones.

  • Seek treatment if you frequently drink alcohol or smoke tobacco. Both can weaken your bones.

  • Talk with your doctor about taking calcium, vitamin D supplements, or prescription drugs called bisphosphonates to help prevent bone loss.

Common side effects of antiandrogens

When antiandrogens are used alone, many of the side effects are similar to those of LHRH analog and orchiectomies, although sexual side effects tend to be less common. Here's what you may expect:

  • Feeling tired

  • Feeling sad or down

  • Diarrhea

  • Nausea

  • Breast enlargement

You can ask your doctor about medications and for tips to ease some of these side effects.

Common side effects of abiraterone

This drug, a CYP17 inhibitor, works in a different way from other types of hormone therapy. Side effects may include:

  • Joint or muscle pain

  • Hot flashes

  • Upset stomach

  • Diarrhea

  • Excess fluid in the body

  • High blood pressure 

FYH

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