Specialising in the human experience of Living with prostate cancer – warts and all

Posts Tagged ‘Hormone


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We are nearly all the same

We are nearly all the same

My mentor Greg, some time last year had inadvertently stirred up an interest in me that began my latest quest, resulting in this particular post. Mind you, the search for information on this issue still goes on for me and the more I discover  the more “Holy Smoke what if”  moments I find.

Greg had written much and lectured me a great deal on the benefits of progesterone and in particular, his use of a daily application of progesterone cream. In Greg’s words “it was sensational and made such a great difference to his sense of wellbeing, Progesterone balances the hormones in the human body thus restoring metabolic function.”

Progesterone cream is only available on prescription here in Australia and is normally prescribed for menopausal women. I remember Greg telling me he was lucky that his GP would prescribe it for him being a male. So this is where my interest began that has resulted in the following article for consideration by anyone interested. I have included some links for further information at the end of this post and I can highly recommend the link for Dr John Lee and his booklet on hormone balance for men.

Men with advanced prostate cancer will understand the nuts and bolts of ADT (Androgen Deprivation Treatment) and the fact that ADT shuts down the production of testosterone in the testes to castration levels. This treatment is one of the three primary treatments offered men diagnosed with prostate cancer, the others being surgery, radiation or a combination of these.

At the current time medical opinion believes that the prostate cancer feeds off testosterone hence the use of ADT therapy to cut out the production of testosterone. Thus you can conclude that medical opinion believes that testosterone drives prostate cancer. Almost all men being treated with ADT will at some time find their prostate cancer becomes castrate resistant and will then continue to progress despite ADT.

Hormone balance for men

Hormone balance for men

Hormone balance in men and women is critical for optimum health and both men and women share three main hormones in differing quantities. Testosterone, (men)Progesterone, (the balancer) and Estrogen (female).  It has long been known that an excess or imbalance of estrogen can cause breast cancer in women, however consider the following argument in the case of prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer occurs mostly in older men with low levels of testosterone and low levels of progesterone. However estrogen levels in the form of estradiol rise and dominate in older men. The estrogen increases in the fat of overweight older men by the conversion of testosterone into the estrogens. Life style also contributes to the manufacture of estrogens in men by the overuse of alcohol, smoking, diet, pollution, the use of plastics for cooking and drinking and shift work (sleep disturbance patterns).

So are we on the right track in our fight against prostate cancer??????? There is a surprising  amount of studies and information available on the role of estrogen in prostate cancer and further research happening but you really have to go looking for it.

I'm alright Jack

I’m alright Jack

It appears to me that there is not much difference between men and women, just a different percentage of the same hormones. I think the Chinese hit the nail on the head with the concept of Yin and Yang. Same with the hormones, testosterone and estrogen, Yin and Yang and is progesterone the juggler???? And could it really be that estrogen might be the culprit in prostate cancer not testosterone????? perhaps we have been looking in all the wrong places!!


Lee aka Popeye

Further Reading ( *******Dr John Lee Booklet on Hormone Balance In Men Recommended reading )

Lee’s side effects of hormone therapy ADT

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Drug side effect

Drug side effects

I began hormone therapy soon after my diagnosis of PCA. My urologist began what is called combined androgen blockade. This consists of a four monthly injected implant LHRH analog agent in my case Eligard. This mainly targets the pituary gland that signals the testes to produce testosterone and the implant prevents this occurring (chemical castration).

I also take a daily anti androgen tablet (Anandron) which targets the adrenal glands that also produce testosterone.

Most readers will be aware of the reasons for the hormone treatment in the management of cancer. In my case I have been advised I will most likely be on this medication for the next three years, post my radiation treatment. (You little beauty)

A search through the web will give you a heap of information regarding the different hormone treatments available and the drugs including the known side effects you can expect to experience. The web will also give you a heap of information in forums from men affected by this treatment. As each person is different in their responses to treatments and there are so many different forms of hormone treatment there is vastly different points of view in the side effects experienced by these men.

I am attempting here to give one example of the effects of a standard hormone treatment on one person, namely me. For the past four months I have been battling a huge change in my quality of life and would like to sum up here my experience. As you will see it is not a happy place to be in for the moment.

Drug side effects

Drug Side Effects

The side effects that I experience can be divided into catagories.

Sexual: Although some of my problems can be attributed to my cancer and TURP procedure, the loss of libido is most notable. I cannot remember the last time I have been sexually aroused and I hardly even think about it although I do apologise to my wife on a regular basis and give her big meaningful hugs.

Physical: Extreme fatigue for most of the time. I am reasonably OK while siting doing nothing, but the moment I become active I experience weakness in the legs with a loss of co-ordination. I have no strength and find it difficult to walk any distance faster than a shuffle. My wife has more strength to lift any articles that have any weight. After walking for 50 meters or any exertion to complete a task I am puffing and panting like an asthmatic.

I constantly wear a light jacket as I frequently become cold and have difficulty maintaining body temperature. This effect is real weird as I think of it as my hot flushes but in reverse as I get cold easily?? My muscle tone is disapearing and replaced by obvious flab and I have developed a nice set of 12 year old boobs. My hair and beard though have become nice and soft. My testicles and penis have shrunk significantly. I find it difficult to drive any distance as I become overwhelmed with the desire to fall asleep and in the case of any extended travel when I am not able to drive, I sleep in the passenger seat from one destination to the next, makes the trip go faster.

A real interesting side effect is a visual one. I have extreme trouble changing from a bright environment to a darker one. If I go from a bright sunlit view to indoors I am almost blind for a while, not being able to adjust to the light difference. This has led me in a couple of memorable times of seeing the blue sky as pink and a green sometimes blue patch of light in the centre of my vision until I can adjust and this may take several minutes. This side effect is a known one for the anandron medication, but it is still weird and worrying. I also have problems sleeping normally at night, often I am dead tired at 6pm only to be wide awake at 1am???? I also suffer stiffness and pain in and around the pelvic area, thighs and lower back.

Mental: I have diminished motivation. Things that used to inspire me I no longer care about. I used to look forward to activities like fishing, sailing, projects around the house etc but not anymore. I have trouble verbalising ideas or offering opinions. I have trouble focusing and decision making. I have difficulty prioritising tasks and my spelling and memory has gone out the window. I experience depressive moments and emotional instability from time to time.

Systemic: While not experiencing any problems at present time I have read where I am vunerable to ostioporosis and cardiac problems.

That just about wraps it up for me apart from the following: I recognise that I will be dealing with these side effects for some time and I am actively trying to sort out a better way for me to deal with them. I suspect most of these side effects are a result of the anandron medication, and I am doing some investigations to try and prove this. I am also forcing myself ( I repeat forcing myself ) to carry out a solid exercise program to try and turn these effects around. Hopefully I will be able to report on these results in a post further down the track.

Lee aka Popeye