How is hormonal therapy delivered?
Your doctor will prescribe hormonal therapy medications by mouth, patches you wear on your skin, or by injection. The type of hormone determines how you take hormonal therapy medication.
Hormonal therapy in the form of radiation therapy or surgery is performed in a hospital or outpatient setting. Your doctor will determine which type and method of treatment is best for you and how long you need to stay in the hospital or surgical center based on your diagnosis, age, medical history, general health, and possibly your personal preference. Learn about the different procedures for your condition and ask why your doctor will use a particular type of procedure for you.
Will I feel pain?
Hormonal therapy taken as pills is painless. Hormonal therapy given as shots may cause temporary soreness at the injection site. Let your doctor know if the discomfort does not pass quickly.
Hormonal therapy that involves radiation therapy or surgery may cause some discomfort. Your comfort and relaxation is very important to both you and your care team. You should expect that your care team will give you sufficient anesthetic, pain and sedative medications so that you stay comfortable. If you are uncomfortable, tell a member of your healthcare team.
What are the risks and potential complications of hormonal therapy?
Most hormonal medication therapy is monitored with periodic blood tests. This helps your doctor make sure that you are taking the right amount of the hormonal drug. Ideal doses vary from person to person. If the dose of hormonal medication is too small for you, it will not do its job correctly. If the dose is too high, it may cause side effects. Either of these situations can be serious and potentially life threatening.
Risks and potential complications of hormonal medication therapy include:
- Complications from too little of a hormonal medication
- Side effects from too much of a hormonal medication
- Side effects not related to dose. For example, insulin injections can cause skin changes that are not related to the dose. These changes include abnormal bumps, dents or thickening of your skin.
- Side effects related to length of treatment. For example, menopausal hormone therapy carries risks, such as blood clots and stroke. These risks may increase the longer you take menopausal hormone therapy.
- Unexpected side effects
Your healthcare provider is best able to advise you about the specific risks and complications of your hormonal medication therapy. Consult your healthcare provider for information specific to your circumstances.
Risks and potential complications of hormonal therapy radiation and surgery include:
- Adverse reaction or problems related to sedation or medications, such as an allergic reaction and problems with breathing
- Exposure to ionizing radiation, which may harm normal tissues while treating diseased tissues
Reducing your risk of complications
You can reduce the risk of certain complications by:
- Ensuring that all members of your care team are aware of any allergies you have
- Following activity, dietary and lifestyle restrictions and recommendations before, during, and after hormonal therapy
- Informing your doctor or radiologist if you are nursing or if there is any possibility that you may be pregnant
- Keeping all scheduled appointments, including laboratory testing to monitor hormone levels
- Notifying your doctor immediately of any concerns or symptoms , such as chest pain, palpitations, bleeding, fever, or increase in pain
- Taking your medications exactly as directed
How do I prepare for my hormonal therapy procedure?
You are a very important member of your own healthcare team. If you are having radiation therapy or surgery, the steps you take before the procedure can improve your comfort level and help your doctor achieve the best outcome. You can prepare yourself by:
- Answering all questions about your medical history and medications you take. This includes prescribed medications, over-the-counter drugs, herbal treatments, and vitamins. It is a good idea to carry a current list of your medical conditions, medications, and allergies at all times.
- Getting pre-operative testing as directed. Testing will vary depending on your age, health, and specific procedure. Pre-operative testing may include a chest X-ray, electrocardiography (ECG), blood tests, and other tests as needed.
- Not eating or drinking just prior to your surgery as directed. Your doctor may cancel your surgery if you eat or drink too close to the start of your surgery due to a risk of complications. These include choking on stomach contents during general anesthesia.
- Taking or stopping medications exactly as directed. For many surgeries, this may include not taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and blood thinners.
© Copyright 2012 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. For specific medical advice, diagnoses and treatment, consult your doctor.