Hormonal Therapy for Prostate Cancer

Endocr Rev. 2021 May 25;42(3):354-373. doi: 10.1210/endrev/bnab002.


Huggins and Hodges demonstrated the therapeutic effect of gonadal testosterone deprivation in the 1940s and therefore firmly established the concept that prostate cancer is a highly androgen-dependent disease. Since that time, hormonal therapy has undergone iterative advancement, from the types of gonadal testosterone deprivation to modalities that block the generation of adrenal and other extragonadal androgens, to those that directly bind and inhibit the androgen receptor (AR). The clinical states of prostate cancer are the product of a superimposition of these therapies with nonmetastatic advanced prostate cancer, as well as frankly metastatic disease. Today's standard of care for advanced prostate cancer includes gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists (e.g., leuprolide), second-generation nonsteroidal AR antagonists (enzalutamide, apalutamide, and darolutamide) and the androgen biosynthesis inhibitor abiraterone. The purpose of this review is to provide an assessment of hormonal therapies for the various clinical states of prostate cancer. The advancement of today's standard of care will require an accounting of an individual's androgen physiology that also has recently recognized germline determinants of peripheral androgen metabolism, which include HSD3B1 inheritance.

Keywords: abiraterone; androgen deprivation therapy; androgens; enzalutamide; glucocorticoids; prostate cancer; steroids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Androgen Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Androgen Receptor Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Androgens / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Prostatic Neoplasms, Castration-Resistant* / drug therapy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms, Castration-Resistant* / pathology
  • Receptors, Androgen / therapeutic use
  • Testosterone / therapeutic use


  • Androgen Antagonists
  • Androgen Receptor Antagonists
  • Androgens
  • Receptors, Androgen
  • Testosterone