Hormone therapy for endometrial cancer
Hormone therapy is the use of hormones or hormone-blocking drugs to fight cancer. This type of hormone treatment is different from the hormones given to treat the symptoms of menopause.
Below are some of the types of hormone treatment that might be used to fight endometrial cancer.
Progestins: Progesterone-like drugs can be used to slow the growth of cancer cells. The drugs are usually taken as pills or given as shots (injections). Side effects can include high blood sugar levels in women with diabetes. Hot flashes, night sweats, and weight gain can also happen. Rarely, serious blood clots might form.
Sometimes endometrial hyperplasia and early endometrial cancers can be treated with an intrauterine device that contains a progestin and possibly another hormone drug.
Tamoxifen: Tamoxifen is a drug often used to treat breast cancer. It may also be used to treat advanced endometrial cancer or endometrial cancer that has come back (recurred). It can cause hot flashes and vaginal dryness. People taking tamoxifen also have an increased risk of serious blood clots in the leg.
GNRH (Gonadotropin-releasing hormone) agonists: These drugs can be given to women whose ovaries are still working to switch off the ovaries so they stop making estrogen. The drugs are given as shots (injected) every 1 to 3 months. Side effects can include any of the symptoms of menopause like hot flashes and vaginal dryness. If they are taken for a long time (years), these drugs can weaken bones.
Aromatase inhibitors: After the ovaries are removed (or if they are not working), estrogen is still made in fat tissue. This becomes the body's main source of estrogen. Drugs called aromatase inhibitors can stop this estrogen from being formed and lower estrogen levels even further. These drugs are still being studied for use in endometrial cancer treatment. Side effects can include joint and muscle pain as well as hot flashes. If they are taken for a long time (years), these drugs can weaken bones.
Last Medical Review: 08/01/2012
Last Revised: 01/21/2013