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Some cancers, such as certain breast and prostate cancers, require hormones to grow and spread. Hormone therapy is a cancer treatment that slows or stops the growth of these cancer cells by depriving them of the hormones they need to grow. Hormone therapy is sometimes used to shrink cancer tumors prior to surgery, but it’s most often used following treatment to help reduce the chances of cancer returning or spreading.

There are two main types of hormone therapy. One type affects the body’s ability to produce the type of hormone cancer needs to grow. The other type affects how hormones behave in the body. Hormone therapy is administered through a pill or injection, typically for years following other cancer treatments.

Side Effects of Hormone Therapy

The side effects of hormone therapy can include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Loss of interest in or ability to have sex
  • Weakened bones
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Enlarged, tender breasts
  • Fatigue
  • Vaginal dryness in women
  • Changes to the menstrual cycle in women
  • Changes in mood
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