Hormones in Cancer Therapy
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The first endocrine procedure carried out in the treatment of advanced cancer was an oophorectomy performed in 1895 as a treatment for breast cancer. In the 1940s, orchidectomy and oestrogens were shown to be effective in the management of advanced prostatic cancer. In the 1950s, with the development of synthetic steroids, a number of these drugs were tested in patients with advanced cancer, and uterine, breast and prostate cancer were shown to respond. During the 1960s, interest developed in the mechanism of action of steroid hormones, not only in normal hormone-sensitive target tissue but also to try to explain why some tumours occasionally responded to hormonal therapy. It was recognised that hormonally sensitive normal tissues and tumour cells contained receptors which mediated the hormonal effect. In the last few years, great interest has developed in the measurement of hormone receptors in tumour cells, and our understanding of the mechanisms of hormone action has increased enormously.
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