Hormone Therapy | Cancer

Hormone Therapy

Our renowned cancer center has extensive experience in hormone therapy. You can rest assured that our experts provide you the best possible care.

Medically reviewed on Oct. 13, 2023.

A woman holding products for hormone replacement therapy.

Stopping Hormonal Cancer

Hormone therapy treats cancers that need hormones to grow, such as breast cancer and prostate cancer. We usually use it along with other cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation.

At UC Davis Health, we are regional leaders in using hormone therapy to treat cancer. Our highly skilled team members work together to take the best care of you. 

On this page

How Does Hormone Therapy Work?

Hormone therapy drugs stop or slow the growth of cancer cells that use hormones to grow. It is also called hormonal therapy or endocrine therapy.

Hormone therapy drugs work by changing the amount of hormones in your body. They may work in a few different ways. For example, they may stop the body from making a hormone altogether. Or they may block a hormone from sticking to cancer cells. Finally, they may change how a hormone behaves in your body. Hormone therapy can be given in the following ways:


Many hormone therapy drugs can be taken by mouth in pill, capsule or liquid form. You can pick them up at your local pharmacy and take them at home on a regular schedule.


The drugs are delivered with a shot in your arm, leg, belly or hip. We inject under the skin or in a muscle. We give you the shot at our treatment center or we may teach you (or a caregiver) how to do it at home.


Surgery is also a form of hormone therapy. It usually involves removing an organ that produces certain hormones. These could include the testicles (to reduce testosterone levels) or the ovaries (to stop estrogen production).

Request an Appointment

Our cancer specialists provide thorough evaluations and personalized treatment plans. Learn more about how to make an appointment at UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center.



UC Davis Health Referring Physicians

For providers in UC Davis Medical Group or our Cancer Care Network

External Referring Physicians

For providers who are external clinicians

When Is Hormone Therapy Used?

Hormone therapy can be used on its own or with other treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. We can use it in different ways and at different times in your cancer journey, such as: 

  • Physician smiling while talking to an older man who is sitting on an exam table

    Before surgery and/or radiation

    Hormone therapy can be used before surgery and/or radiation to shrink a tumor. This is known as neoadjuvant therapy.

  • Female patient receiving an injection from one nurse while second nurse is looking through paperwork

    During other cancer treatments

    You may get hormone therapy at the same time as other cancer treatments if you have metastatic cancer. Metastatic cancer is cancer that has spread to other parts of your body.

  • Two female healthcare providers walking down a hospital hallway

    After other cancer treatments

    We can use hormone therapy after other cancer treatments to reduce the risk of the cancer returning. This treatment is called adjuvant therapy. We also can use it if the cancer comes back (recurrent cancer).

Hormone Therapy Side Effects

Hormone therapy interferes with your hormones, which means it can cause unwanted side effects. People respond differently to various treatments, so you may not have the same side effects as someone else. Here are the potential side effects for the two most common types of cancer that hormone therapy treats:

Breast Cancer

If you get hormone therapy for breast cancer, you may experience hot flashes, vaginal dryness, fatigue, nausea and decreased sexual desire. Other possible side effects include muscle or joint pain, osteoporosis and a higher risk of other cancers, blood clots, stroke, heart disease and cataracts.

Prostate Cancer

The side effects of hormone therapy for prostate cancer may include erectile dysfunction, decreased sexual desire and hot flashes. Other side effects may include bone loss, weight gain, decreased muscle mass, fatigue and an elevated risk of other health issues.

Awards and Recognitions
USNWR Best Hospital badge

Ranked among the nation’s best hospitals

A U.S. News & World Report best hospital in cancer, cardiology, heart & vascular surgery, diabetes & endocrinology, ENT, geriatrics, neurology & neurosurgery, orthopedics, and pulmonology & lung surgery.

Learn more
US News & World Report best Children’s Hospital badge

Ranked among the nation’s best children’s hospitals

A U.S. News & World Report best children’s hospital in diabetes & endocrinology, nephrology, and orthopedics*. (*Together with Shriners Children’s)

Learn more
USNWR best regional hospital badge

Ranked Sacramento’s #1 hospital

Ranked Sacramento’s #1 hospital by U.S. News, and high-performing in back surgery, COPD, colon cancer surgery, gynecological cancer surgery, heart attack, heart failure, hip fracture, kidney failure, leukemia, lymphoma & myeloma, lung cancer surgery, pneumonia, prostate cancer surgery, stroke, TAVR, and gastroenterology & GI surgery.

Learn more
Magnet designation badge

The nation’s highest nursing honor

UC Davis Medical Center has received Magnet® recognition, the nation’s highest honor for nursing excellence.

Learn more
Chime acute badge

“Most Wired” for acute care

UC Davis Health has been recognized as a level 10 out of 10 in the Digital Health “Most Wired” program from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). The honor recognizes excellence in using technology to improve the delivery of care.

Learn more
Chime ambulatory badge

“Most Wired” for ambulatory care

UC Davis Health has been recognized as a level 10 out of 10 in the Digital Health “Most Wired” program from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). The honor recognizes excellence in using technology to improve the delivery of care.

Learn more
NCI badge

World-class cancer care

One of ~56 U.S. cancer centers designated “comprehensive” by the National Cancer Institute.

Learn more

A leader in health care equality

For the 13th consecutive year, UC Davis Medical Center has been recognized as an LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader by the educational arm of America’s largest civil rights organization.

Learn more
See more