Side-effects of hormone therapy for metastatic prostate cancer
Different hormone therapy drugs have different side-effects, and reactions to drugs vary from person to person.
Ask your doctor or nurse about any side-effects you may get from the drug you have been prescribed.
- Change in sexual function
Hormone therapy can affect your interest in sex, known as your libido, and also your ability to get and keep an erection. There are medications, injections and vacuum devices to help with sexual problems. Read more about sex and prostate cancer.
- Hot flushes
Hot flushes and sweating happen because the lack of testosterone affects the part of your brain that regulates heat. Read more on how to manage hot flushes.
- Weight gain
You might put on weight, especially around your middle. You may also lose some of your muscle tone and strength. Taking some exercise and eating well may help you to avoid putting on too much weight. Your doctor can advise you on suitable exercise and diet, and can refer you to a dietitian, if necessary.
Fatigue is extreme tiredness. You might find that taking regular exercise gives you more energy and helps you to cope. Read more about fatigue and ways to manage.
- Mood changes
Less testosterone might cause mood changes, poor concentration or memory problems, anxiety and sometimes depression. Therapies like relaxation therapy, meditation or yoga, might help you to cope with these frustrating symptoms or counselling might help. Try your local cancer support centre for helpful therapy classes and free counselling.
- Breast swelling and tenderness
You may get mild tenderness and swelling or tissue growth around the breast area. It’s more common with anti-androgen therapy. Medications like tamoxifen can help.
- Osteoporosis or bone thinning
Bones can become brittle, making them more likely to break (fracture). Taking regular exercise, such as walking, and eating foods rich in vitamin D and calcium will help to keep your bones strong. Avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol can also help. Read more about bone health or get in touch with the Irish Osteoporosis Society
Managing side effects
There are treatments to help with most hormone therapy side-effects, so always tell your doctor if you have any. You can also read our pages on coping with the side-effects of cancer treatment.
Exercise and hormone therapy side-effects
Taking some exercise is a great way to feel better if you are having hormone therapy. It can
- Help you to keep a healthy weight
- Build up your muscle tone and strength
- Reduce fatigue
- Help your mood
- Keep your bones healthy
Always talk to your doctor before starting to exercise so that they can give you advice about the best type of exercise for you. There may be special exercise programmes you can do, such as Exwell or the Irish Cancer Society’s Strides for Life walking groups. Call our Support Line, visit a Daffodil Centre or go to your local cancer support centre to find out what’s available in your area.
For more information
1800 200 700