NONSURGICAL TREATMENTS FOR PROSTATE CANCER: LHRH THERAPY
LHRH therapy consists of giving the patient a drug called luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone analogue, or LHRH analogue.
The drag is basically a copy of a natural hormone in the body that stimulates the production of testosterone. LHRH therapy is a simple method, involving an injection once a month. The injection stimulates a burst of testosterone for approximately fourteen days. The patient's body reacts to this as if it is producing too much testosterone. It closes down its hormone production, resulting in a level drop to almost zero (a similar result occurs if the testicles are removed). To maintain this level, the patient has to continue the injections.
LHRH therapy is as effective as an orchiectomy (removal of die testicles), but it does not require surgery. It also avoids the side effects of estrogen therapy. It does, however, often cause impotence and a loss of sexual desire in about half of all patients.
Other disadvantages of LHRH therapy are that monthly office visits are required and, in a small percentage of patients, the therapy may cause a brief increase of cancer symptoms, such as bone pain, before the testosterone level begins to fall. The therapy consists of a large needle inserted deep into the muscle, and it should be administered by a doctor or a nurse. It is also very expensive, costing about $8,500 a year, but this is usually covered by Medicare.
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