Hormone therapy involves either drugs or surgery. The most common hormone therapy for early stage breast cancer is the drug tamoxifen. A newer class of drugs called aromatase inhibitors is also available exclusively for postmenopausal women. Surgical therapy involves the suppression or surgical removal of the ovaries, and even radiation therapy has been used in the past to suppress the ovaries.
Don’t confuse the term “hormone therapy” for treating breast cancer and “hormone replacement therapy” or “HRT,” which is typically used by postmenopausal women to treat symptoms like hot flashes. Hormone therapy for cancer treatment stops hormones from getting to cancer cells and thus prevents the cancer from growing. Hormone replacement therapy for postmenopausal women without cancer adds more hormones to a woman’s body to counter the effects of menopause.
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