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What to Know About Hormone Therapy for Carcinoma of Unknown Primary Origin

If your doctor suspects that your carcinoma of unknown origin may be breast or prostate cancer, hormone therapy may be suggested. This treatment is sometimes used to stop the hormones in your body from allowing cancer cells to grow. Stopping the hormones can be done one of two ways. You may have surgery that takes out organs that make hormones. Or you may take drugs that change the way hormones work.

Two examples of drugs used for hormone therapy are Aromasin (exemestane) and Arimidex (anastrazole). Both drugs limit production of the female hormone, estrogen. This may help slow the growth of breast tumors. For prostate cancer, drugs, such as leuprolide and goserelin, and antiandrogens, such as flutamide and bicalutamide, may either lower the testosterone level or prevent cancer cells from being able to use it to fuel tumor growth. Often a cancer of unknown primary origin can be tested to see if it is possible that hormonal therapy might work.

Potential side effects from hormone therapy for carcinoma of unknown primary origin

Hormone therapy may also cause side effects. These depend on the type of therapy you get or drugs you receive. These are some common side effects:

  • Hot flashes

  • Vaginal dryness or discharge in women

  • Anemia (low red blood cell levels)

  • Thinking and remembering problems

  • Weight gain

  • Tiredness and fatigue

  • Depression

  • Muscle, bone, or joint pain and stiffness

  • Blood clots

Tell your doctor about any side effects you have. There are often ways to ease them and help you feel better.