Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Hormone Treatment for Breast Cancer
Some breast cancers need the hormones estrogen or progesterone to grow. These cancer cells have "receptors" on their surfaces. Receptors are like doorways to let hormones in.
These types of breast cancer are called estrogen-receptor-positive (ER+) or progesterone-receptor-positive (PR+) breast cancer.
Hormone treatment keeps these cancers from getting the hormones they need. It's like starving the cells so that they stop growing. Sometimes they even shrink.
Treatment works in one of two ways:
Hormone treatment may be used:
Hormone treatment sometimes involves surgery to remove the ovaries or radiation treatments to the ovaries. The goal is to stop the ovaries from making estrogen.
Side effects depend on the drug that is used.
Some hormone treatments cause menopause symptoms like vaginal dryness, mood swings, and hot flashes. If you have mild symptoms, you may get some relief if you eat healthy foods, exercise, and lower your stress.
Talk to your doctor if you have severe symptoms that aren't helped by making changes to your lifestyle. You may be able to take medicine to help your symptoms.
Some hormone treatments cause thinning bones. Talk to your doctor to make sure you are doing all you can to protect your bones.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerWendy Y. Chen, MD, MPH, MD, MPH - Medical Oncology, HematologyAdam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Current as ofSeptember 14, 2016
Current as of:
September 14, 2016
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Wendy Y. Chen, MD, MPH, MD, MPH - Medical Oncology, Hematology & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2016 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.