3 Ways Castration Is Used To Treat Prostate Cancer

The idea of using castration in the treatment of prostate cancer can seem intimidating. Both physical and chemical castration can be used to slow the progression of prostate cancer, especially if the cancer is resistant to other therapies.

1. Physical Castration

As the term implies, physical castration involves removing one or both testicles. This form of treatment can be difficult for men to accept, but it can have some benefits. Since most of the male hormones are produced by the testicles, this limits the amount of hormones that can fuel the growth of prostate cancer. Sometimes surgeons can perform a procedure that preserves some of the testicles and only removes certain tissues responsible for the production of androgens. From an aesthetic standpoint, the removal of the testicles can be reconstructed by replacing the testicles with an implant. Physical castration is a permanent procedure, so men considering the procedure for cancer may want to have a discussion with a fertility specialist if they want to preserve their sperm for the future.

2. Luteinizing Hormone-Releasing Hormone Medications

Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) agonists and antagonists are medications that are a type of chemical castration, which can reduce the amount of male hormones in the body. LHRH agonists mimic the structure of luteinizing hormone in the pituitary gland. Eventually, the ongoing presence of the LHRH agonist causes the pituitary glands to stop producing its own luteinizing hormone, thereby causing the pituitary gland eventually stops encouraging the testicles to produce more hormones. This method of chemical castration is frequently used instead of physical castration. Unlike LHRH agonists, LHRH antagonists simply prevent luteinizing hormones from binding to the receptor sites, which also reduces the production of male hormones.

3. Antiandrogen Medications

Antiandrogen medications affect the production of male hormones in different ways. Some medications may decrease the amount of hormones that are able to reach receptor sites by binding with the receptors. Other antiandrogens are designed to minimize or prevent the production of male hormones. One of the benefits of any form of medication used as hormone therapy in the treatment of prostate cancer is the effects are reversible, unlike physical castration. Medications, such as antiandrogens, may have side effects, such as hot flashes, breast enlargement, loss of muscle mass, and weight gain.

Physical or chemical castration is a type of treatment available for prostate cancer that does not respond to chemotherapy and radiation. Reducing the amount of male hormones in the body is one way to slow or stop the progression of aggressive prostate cancer. For more information, contact your local prostate doctor.