Hormone Therapy for Metastatic Breast Cancer

Some cancer cells use hormones made in the body to grow. Hormone therapy can help stop or slow the spread of these cells. Some therapies stop the body from making hormones. Other therapies may change how the body’s hormones act. 

Hormone therapy is used to treat breast cancers that are ER+ or PR+. These drugs are usually given by pill, but some can be given by injection. You may take other treatments at the same time as these drugs. 

Hormone therapy works in different ways. Some drugs lower the level of estrogen; others block its use. 

Certain drugs are for women who have not yet gone through menopause (they still get their period). Other drugs are for women who have gone through menopause. Some drugs work for both. Depending on the type of hormone therapy you are treated with, you may have different side effects. 

These are the latest types of hormone therapies to treat metastatic breast cancer. New treatments become available all the time, so this may not be a complete list. 

Please note: The side effects listed here do not represent a comprehensive list. It's important to discuss all potential side effects of a drug with your healthcare team. Be sure to tell your healthcare team about any side effects you do have.

Search by Drug Name

Treatment Type

Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMS)

Drug Names
Nolvadex® (tamoxifen)
Soltamox® (tamoxifen)
Fareston® (toremifene)
Potential Severe Side Effects
Blood clots Secondary cancer
Important Things to Know
  • There is a slight increased risk of uterine cancer and blood clots.
  • SERMs work for both pre- and post-menopausal women with HR+ cancer.
  • SSRIs (drugs used to treat depression and anxiety) may interfere with tamoxifen.

Treatment Type

Aromatase Inhibitors

Drug Names
Arimidex® (anastrozole)
Aromasin® (exemestane)
Femara® (letrozole)
Potential Severe Side Effects
Fractures
Important Things to Know
  • There is an increased risk of fractures.
  • These drugs work for post-meopausal women whose treatment induced menopause.

Treatment Type

Selective Estrogen Receptor Down Regulators

Drug Name
Faslodex® (fulvestrant)
Important Things to Know
  • This drug is used to treat post-menopausal women with HR+/HER2- breast cancer.
  • If taking anti-coagulants, ask your health care team if they should be paused before Faslodex injections.

Treatment Type

Luteinizing Hormone-Releasing Hormones (LHRH) and Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (GNRH) Agonists

Drug Names
Zoladex® (goserelin acetate)
Lupron® (leuprolide)
Important Things to Know
  • These drugs are used to treat premonopausal women with HR+ breast cancer by suppressing ovary function.