What Is Androgen Deprivation Therapy (ADT)?
Learning you have prostate cancer can be a source of great concern. However, there are many treatment options that can help in your fight against this type of cancer. This article discusses what ADT is, its various forms, and how it can help you in your fight against prostate cancer.
What Does Androgen Deprivation Therapy Do?
Androgen suppression therapy, a hormone therapy, is used to reduce levels of male hormones (called androgens) in the body or stop them from stimulating the growth of prostate cancer cells. It is widely accepted as the first line of treatment against symptomatic metastatic prostate cancer.
The two main androgens in the body are testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT). The testicles are the largest producers of androgen. However, the adrenal glands (glands that sit above your kidneys), as well as the prostate cancer itself, also make a considerably large amount too.
When androgen production is reduced or stopped from getting into the prostate gland, this often makes prostate cancers shrink or grow more slowly for a time. This is because testosterone usually fuels prostate cancer cell growth. It should be noted, however, that hormone therapy alone does not cure localized prostate cancer.
It should also be noted that ADT will not benefit those with castration-resistant prostate cancer. However, there are other treatments to deal with this type of cancer.
After a positive diagnosis and the staging of prostate cancer, our doctors at Urology of Greater Atlanta will know how best to treat the prostate cancer cells using the various treatment options available, such as hormone therapy or radiation therapy, including brachytherapy (seeds) with or without external beam radiation.
Contact one of our offices in Georgia today for more information! Our experts look forward to answering any questions you may have.
What Are The Different Types of Hormone Therapy for Prostate Cancer?
There are many ways of depriving or suppressing androgen hormones from reaching your prostate. The following prostate cancer treatments are available at Urology of Greater Atlanta.
Surgical Castration (Known as Orchiectomy)
This is a form of hormone therapy because of its effect. As the testicles are the largest producers of androgens (such as testosterone), the androgens will be significantly reduced when they are removed. This usually will stop the prostate cancer from growing or may even cause it to shrink for some time.
The effects are permanent, and many men find it difficult to accept, so treatment with drugs to lower hormone levels is usually preferred.
Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) agonists (also called LHRH analogs or GnRH agonists) are used to lower the amount of testosterone made by the testicles. This type of treatment is sometimes referred to as a medical castration because they lower androgen levels just as well as orchiectomy.
LHRH agonists are injected or placed as small implants under the skin. At Urology of Greater Atlanta, the urologists use Triptorelin (Trelstar).
LHRH antagonists are an excellent option when treating advanced prostate cancer. This treatment also lowers testosterone levels but does so more quickly and doesn’t cause tumor flare like the LHRH agonists.
Their function is slightly different in how they work too. These androgen receptor antagonists compete with androgen, preventing it from getting to the cancerous cells. Treatment with these drugs can also be considered a form of medical castration.
These drugs may include the following:
- Degarelix (Firmagon)is given as a monthly injection under the skin. Some men may notice problems at the injection site (pain, redness, and swelling).
- Relugolix (Orgovyx)is taken as pills once daily, so it might allow for less frequent office visits.
How Long Does Androgen Deprivation Therapy Last?
Depending on the drug used, androgen deprivation therapy can be given anywhere from once a month to once a year.
What Are the Side Effects of ADT for Prostate Cancer?
As all the above treatments have the same effect of lowering the levels of hormones, such as testosterone, all will produce similar side effects. These side effects of hormone therapy can include:
- Reduction or loss of sexual desire
- Erectile dysfunction (impotence)
- Shrinkage of testicles and penis
- Hot flashes, which may get better or go away with time
- Gynecomastia (breast tenderness and growth of breast tissue)
- Osteoporosis (bone loss), which can lead to broken bones
- Anemia (lower count of red blood cells)
- Decreased mental sharpness
- Loss of muscle mass
- Weight gain
- Increased cholesterol levels
How to Manage the Side Effects of ADT
The most effective way to manage the side effects and medical risks of ADT is to participate in some form of exercise. Exercise will help against weight gain, muscle weakening, and fatigue. I will also help you reduce the medical risks of ADT, such as cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, and osteoporosis.
Contact Urology of Greater Atlanta Today!
The team of board-certified urologists at Urology of Greater Atlanta offers a variety of treatments for prostate cancer, depending on the severity of your condition and your overall health needs.
Call us today or request an appointment online if you have any concerns about prostate cancer. We have multiple locations throughout Georgia for your convenience.