Breast Cancer Home > Breast Cancer Hormone Treatment

If you have breast cancer, your healthcare provider may recommend hormone treatment to prevent the cancer from spreading or recurring (coming back). Hormone treatment may be called for your tumor depends on natural hormones to grow. Surgery (removal of the ovaries) or drugs (such as tamoxifen) are two types of treatment that are known to affect the hormones.

An Introduction to Hormone Treatment for Breast Cancer

Breast cancer hormone treatment (also called hormonal therapy) is used to prevent the growth, spread, or recurrence of breast cancer (known as adjuvant therapy).
If lab tests show that your tumor depended on your natural hormones to grow, it will be described as estrogen-positive or progesterone-positive in the lab report. This means that any remaining cancer cells may continue to grow when these hormones are present in your body. Hormonal therapy can block your body's natural hormones from reaching any remaining cancer cells.
Research has proven that hormone treatment can extend the lifespan of a breast cancer patient who has cancer cells that depend on hormones to grow.

Types of Breast Cancer Hormone Treatment

This type of treatment uses either drugs or surgery to treat the disease.
Your doctor may suggest a drug that can block the natural hormone. One drug is tamoxifen, which blocks estrogen. Another type of drug prevents the body from making the female hormone estradiol (estradiol is a form of estrogen). This type of drug is an aromatase inhibitor. If you have not gone through menopause, your doctor may give you a drug that stops the ovaries from making estrogen.
If you have not yet gone through menopause, you may have surgery to remove your ovaries. The ovaries are the main source of the body's estrogen. A woman who has gone through menopause does not need surgery. (The ovaries produce less estrogen after menopause.)
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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