• Hormone therapy stops the growth of cancer
cells that is caused by hormones.
• Hormone therapy is taken by women with
hormone-positive breast cancer.
• There are 4 main groups of hormone therapy.
• Which types of hormone therapy should be
taken are based on menopausal status.
• Hormone therapy causes symptoms of
NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Stages I and II Breast Cancer, Version 1.2014
Side effects of hormone therapy | Review
Side effects of hormone therapy
Unhealthy and unpleasant outcomes
For many women, hormone therapy causes
symptoms of menopause. Menopausal symptoms
include hot flashes, vaginal discharge or dryness,
sleep problems, weight gain, hair thinning, fatigue,
and changes in mood. Which symptoms you will have
may differ from other women.
Tamoxifen also has two rare but more serious side
effects: 1) cancer of the uterus; and 2) blood clots.
For most women with breast cancer, the benefits of
taking tamoxifen far outweigh the risks. Aromatase
inhibitors don’t cause cancer and very rarely cause
blood clots. However, they can weaken your bones
(called osteoporosis) and cause bone fractures.
Checking your bone health with regular bone mineral
density tests can show bone weakness before
fractures occur. Your doctor can order medicine to
strengthen your bones if necessary.
Not all the side effects of hormone therapy are listed
here. Please ask your treatment team for a list of all
common and rare side effects. If a side effect bothers
you, tell your treatment team. There may be ways to
help you feel better.