Side effects of hormone therapy
Below we talk about the common side effects of hormone therapy.
Learn more about:
Hormone therapy is a systemic treatment, which means it can affect cells throughout the body. As each hormone in the body has a specific function, changing the levels of hormones in the body can cause side effects.
Whether or not you have side effects, and how severe they are, depends on the type of hormone you are taking, the dose, and how long you take the treatment. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking hormone therapy.
Common side effects
Common side effects include tiredness, hot flushes, mood changes, weight gain and sweating. Hormone therapy can also affect fertility and sexuality, bring on menopause, and cause bones to weaken and break more easily (osteoporosis).
- Learn more about common side effects of Hormone therapy for breast cancer.
- Learn more about common side effects of Hormone therapy for cancer of the uterus.
- Learn more about common side effects of Androgen deprivation therapy for prostate cancer.
Ways to manage side effects
Many people take hormone therapy for a long time. There are things you can do to help improve your wellbeing.
Studies show that regular exercise can help manage the side effects of hormone therapy. It can help improve mood, heart health, bone and muscle strength, and energy levels, and help prevent weight gain.
Whatever your age or fitness level, a physiotherapist or exercise physiologist can develop an exercise program to meet your specific needs. Ask your doctor for a referral. Exercise after a cancer diagnosis includes examples of different aerobic, strength-training and flexibility exercises.
Hormone therapy can lead to weight gain and increase the risk of high cholesterol. Aim to eat a balanced diet with a variety of fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and protein-rich foods. It may help to see a dietitian for advice. For more on this see Eat well and Nutrition and cancer.
Bone health (osteoporosis)
Hormone therapy can have long-term effects on your bone strength (density). Talk to your doctor about having a bone density test or taking medicine to prevent your bones from becoming weak. Regular exercise, eating calcium-rich foods (e.g. yoghurt, milk, tofu, green vegetables) and getting enough vitamin D will also help keep your bones strong. For more information visit healthybonesaustralia.org.au.
Meditation and relaxation
Meditation and relaxation podcast
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.