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: 4 January, 2024 1:53 pm

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 reputable online health information standards, such as Healthdirect .

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 is evidence-based and the sites may subscribe to reputable online health information standards, such as Healthdirect .

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.

Cancer Council Victoria - Treatment for Breast Cancer 2022 (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 2022 (AUS)

Information on hormone treatments for breast cancer begins on page 46 of this PDF booklet.

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 2021 (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.

Counterpart webinar - 'Early menopause and cancer' 2020 (AUS)

Treatment for cancer can lead to menopause happening earlier in a woman’s life than would normally be expected. Early menopause may be associated with a complex mix of physical, emotional, psychological and social changes and challenges. An expert panel of speakers present on and discuss this topic. This session is presented in partnership with Monash Centre for Health Research and Implementation.

Breast Cancer Network Australia - 'Breast Cancer Pathology Fact Sheet' 2021 (AUS)

Click 'Pathology' in the side menu, or scroll down to Fact Sheets, where you will find this fact sheet that explains 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.

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. - Hormonal Therapy 2023 (US)

A web page on the site of 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. - Staying on Track with Hormonal Therapy 2023 (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 CancerNow - Aromatase Inhibitors (anastrozole, exemestane & letrozole) 2022 (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 MedicineWise - 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 Now - 'Ovarian suppression and breast cancer' booklet 2022 (UK)

This web page is about ovarian suppression to stop the ovaries from producing oestrogen. It includes what it is, how is it achieved and when it is likely to be used. It also discusses common side effects and how to cope with them.

This is a list of hard copy resources such as books and CDs that are not readily available online.

The complete guide to breast cancer: how to feel empowered and take control (AUS)

British authors Professor Trish Greenhalgh and Dr Liz O'Riordan both have medical backgrounds, and were both diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015. This book describes their unique personal experiences from diagnosis to life after treatment.

Greenhalgh, T; O'Riordan, L, London: Vermillion, 2018

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

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.

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. (see also, Liz O'Riordan's book under 'Offline resources' above.)

Counterpart (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 box 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 box to get a feel for the discussions that are taking place.

Aussie Breast Cancer Forum (AUS)

Note: the Forum was archived in 2020 and is no 'read only'. 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. - Forum: Hormonal Therapy - Before, During and After (US)

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

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