Back

Hormonal Treatment

Hormone structure

This Navigator topic is your stepping stone to finding quality, current information on hormonal treatments (sometimes called endocrine therapies) for breast cancer, from a range of reputable sources.

This information is for women who have been diagnosed with hormone receptor positive early breast cancer and are faced with making decisions about treatment options, including hormonal treatments.  Having access to quality information to help you make informed decisions is important.

Note that this information is not a substitute for medical advice. It is not meant to be comprehensive, but rather to provide a starting point to information seeking.Always consult your treating team for advice on your specific diagnosis and treatment.


Last Updated: 19 November, 2019 9:26 am

When making decisions about hormonal treatments for hormone receptor positive breast cancer, you may wish to consider the following questions. These questions may help you decide about the treatment of your breast cancer. You might want the answers to some of the questions straight away, while some may become important later on. You can either ask these questions directly, or use them as a guide to put together your own questions.

  • What has my oestrogen production got to do with my breast cancer?
  • Will hormonal treatments be effective in treating my breast cancer?
  • Can I get the support of a breast care nurse?
  • Which hormonal treatments are suitable for me? Why?
  • How long will I have to take the hormonal treatment for?
  • When will I start hormonal treatments if I am having other treatments?
  • Will these treatments be covered by Medicare?
  • What are the side effects of the treatments you are recommending?
  • What can I do to manage these side effects?
  • Will the side effects stop when I finish treatment?
  • How will hormonal treatment effect my ability to have children?
  • Do I still need to use contraception if I'm having hormonal treatment?

These listings provide links to the websites of organisations which include a particular focus on hormonal treatments for early breast cancer. The link will direct you to the organisation's home page where you can search their site independently. The information on these websites is evidence-based and the sites may subscribe to a reputable online health information standard such as the HONcode .

Chemocare (US)

ChemoCare is a US based organisation with information on a wide range of drugs associated with chemotherapy and hormonal treatments. Under "Drug information" you will find a list of many of the hormonal treatments used in Australia.

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

A website of the Federal Government's Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme including details of the medicines subsidised by the Australian Government. It contains information for consumers, carers, health professionals and provides standard pricing information for hormonal treatments to treat breast cancer.

On this page is a range of evidence-based information directly related to hormonal treatments for early breast cancer. The list includes downloadable fact sheets, pamphlets, or PDFs and web pages. The information on these websites includes evidence-based information by organisations that may subscribe to reputable online health information standards such as the HONcode.

Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) - My Journey online tool (AUS)

Formerly the My Journey Kit, this tool is now online. Sign up to access information that can be tailored to your own situation. Find information on hormone treatments under the Treatment section.

Breast Cancer Network Australia - Hormone Therapy and Breast Cancer 2017 (AUS)

This booklet available as a PDF explains how hormonal breast cancer treatments work, and side effects and personal experiences. Contact BCNA to order hard copies.

Breast Cancer Network Australia - Hormone Therapy (AUS)

This web page outlines how hormonal treatment works with comprehensive information about side effects and managing them.

Cancer Council Victoria - Treatment for Breast Cancer (AUS)

The Hormone Therapy section of this web page gives a really good overview of the types of hormonal treatments and their side effects.

Cancer Council Australia - Understanding Breast Cancer 2018 (AUS)

Click the 'Download' or 'Order' links at the bottom of the page to get your copy of this booklet. Information on hormone treatments begins on page 46.

Counterpart (formerly BreaCan) webinar - Targeted therapies 2015 (VIC)

In this webinar recording, Dr Shirley Wong, a Consultant Medical Oncologist, discusses hormonal treatments and Herceptin, how they work, their limitations and who they are used for.

Breast Cancer Now - Hormone Therapy (UK)

A page on the website of Breast Cancer Now (formerly Breast Cancer Care UK). This page provides information on hormone treatment for early breast cancer. It includes links to information on individual hormonal treatments such as Tamoxifen, Zoladex, Faslodex and aromatase inhibitors.

Cancer Australia - 'Breast Cancer and Early Menopause' booklet 2013 (AUS)

A booklet produced by Cancer Australia explaining why some treatments cause menopausal symptoms and how these can be managed.

Breast Cancer Network Australia - 'Breast Cancer Pathology Fact Sheet' 2013 (AUS)

A fact sheet produced by BCNA that helps to understand your pathology report. It includes a section on how to determine whether the growth of your breast cancer is affected by hormones and which ones.

Cancer Australia - 'Guide for Women with Early Breast Cancer' booklet 2012 (AUS)

A booklet produced by Cancer Australia which includes a comprehensive chapter on hormonal treatments for breast cancer. It explains why only certain patients may be treated with them, how these treatments work and what the side effects are.

Dr Susan Love - Hormone Therapy (US)

While the information on his web page is US-focused, it does provide a clear overivew of hormonal therapies for breast cancer, including pre- and post-menopausal women, decision making, and answers to some frequently asked questions.

Breastcancer.org - Hormonal Therapy (US)

A web page on the site of Breastcancer.org in the US with extensive information about how hormonal treatments work and an explanation of different treatments including aromatase inhibitors and SERMS. It includes a link to a side effects comparison chart to help you document any side effects and a useful link to the most up to date research on hormonal treatments.

Breastcancer.org - Staying on Track with Hormonal Therapy (US)

A page on the website of BreastCancer.Org that discusses the challenges of the long-term commitment often required in taking hormonal treatment medicines and strategies for how you can stay on track.

Breast Cancer Care UK - Aromatase Inhibitors (anastrozole, exemestane & letrozole) 2016 (UK)

A web page outlining the range of aromatase inhibitors, available to post-menopausal women, and how they work. Listed by the generic names for Arimidex, Aromasin and Femara.

NPS - Medicine Finder (AUS)

Use the search box to find Consumer Medicine Information (CMI) sheets on drugs you have been prescribed. These explain the use, administration and side effects of each drug.

Breast Cancer Care UK - 'Ovarian Ablation and suppression' booklet (UK)

Please note that this information is to be updated in August 2017. A fact sheet on the website of Breast Cancer Care in the UK outlining what ovarian ablation suppression are and how this is achieved. The treatment is specific to women who haven't gone through menopause. It includes links to information about menopausal symptoms and the risks of osteoporosis.

This is a list of hard copy resources such as books and CDs that are not readily available online. They may be available for loan through Counterpart's Resource Centre or may be sourced independently online or through book stores. You can access the Counterpart library online or call the Resource Centre directly on 1300 781 500.

Breast Cancer : Taking Control (AUS)

An Australian book about breast cancer with a chapter on hormonal treatments. It includes a flowchart that helps you understand whether or not hormonal treatment might be useful for you and which ones. It includes good pictures explaining oestrogen production and how hormonal treatments work.

Boyages, J., Beecroft, NSW: Boycare Publishing, 2010.

View Details Online

Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book (6th ed.) (US)

Susan Love's updated book deals almost entirely with breast cancer. The section on treatments is very thorough and the explanation of hormonal treatments including Tamoxifen is detailed and easy to understand. It also includes a chapter on making decisions regarding treatment that explains some of the important terms to understand about risk reduction.

Love S. M. MD, Da Capo Press, 2015

View Details Online

This list includes websites containing personal stories both written and visual format. They include blogs and online forums. The information contained in these links reflects the personal experiences of individuals and does not constitute evidence-based research or information.

Pink Hope - Tamoxifen: one woman's experience (AUS)

The personal story of Angela, a 22-year-old Australian woman, and her experience of taking the drug Tamoxifen for her hormone receptor positive breast cancer.

Liz O'Riordan - Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot 2016 (UK)

Liz O'Riordan, a breast surgeon who blogs about her own breast cancer experiences at Breast Surgeon With Breast Cancer, describes her reaction to Tamoxifen and Zoladex.

Counterpart (formerly BreaCan) (AUS)

Counterpart is a unique free information and support service for Victorian women living with breast or gynaecological cancers. You can speak with trained peer support volunteers who have experienced cancer themselves.

Cancer Council - Online Community (AUS)

Cancer Council's online support network for people living with cancer. There are online forums and blogs. You can type hormonal treatments into the search function to find discussions about this, and other topics.

Breast Cancer Network Australia - online network (AUS)

An online network of Australia's peak national consumer organisation for those affected by breast cancer. It includes discussions by individuals and groups of people in similar situations including those who have experienced hormonal treatments. You need to register to join, however you can type hormonal treatments in the search engine to get a feel for the discussions that are taking place..

Aussie Breast Cancer Forum (AUS)

An Australian website that provides a forum for people with breast cancer and those affected by breast cancer, to share on a range of different topics. It contains a number of discussions about hormonal treatment drugs.

Breastcancer.org - Forum: Hormonal Therapy - Before, During and After (US)

A US based breast cancer online forum which includes discussions about hormonal treatment.

Know a personal story we could share? Please provide your feedback using the link below.