Treatment in which a person takes HORMONE extracts or synthetic hormones to influence the body’s natural production of hormones or to replace hormones the body is no longer producing. Nearly all of the body’s major hormones are available as purified extracts, laboratory- synthesized pharmaceuticals, or recombinant products. Common hormone therapy regimens include replacement supplements to treat:
- ADDISON’S DISEASE
- ADRENAL INSUFFICIENCY
- GROWTH HORMONE DEFICIENCY
- HYPOPITUITARISM (especially following treatment for adenoma)
Hormone therapy may also be a treatment approach for HORMONE-DRIVEN CANCERS such as PROSTATE CANCER, some BREAST CANCERS, and ENDOMETRIAL CANCER (cancer of the UTERUS). Doctors may also prescribe short-term hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for moderate to severe symptoms related to MENOPAUSE. FERTILITY treatments typically involve hormone therapy to stimulate OVULATION in women or SPERM production in men.
CHANGE IN HRT PRACTICES
For the latter half of the 20th century doctors routinely prescribed moderate doses of ESTROGENS and progestins for women going through and beyond MENOPAUSE, based on the presumption that such hormone replacement therapy (HRT) protected women from heart disease and OSTEOPOROSIS. Several large studies in the early 2000s disproved this premise, establishing concern that routine HRT increased the risk for heart disease as well as HORMONE-DRIVEN CANCERS. Doctors now prescribe small doses of these hormones for short periods of time and only for women who are experiencing moderate to severe symptoms such as hot flashes and sleep disturbances.
See also CANCER TREATMENT OTIONS AND DECISIONS; OSTEOPOROSIS.