What Is the Connection between Steroids and Cancer?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 23 February 2020
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The main connection between steroids and cancer is that certain types of steroids may be used as cancer treatment. This may be done in combination with other treatments, and steroids are often used in those with progressed forms of the disease which aren’t responding well to other therapies. The type of steroid used will often depend on the type of cancer being treated.

There are many different types of steroids, and they all have a unique effect on the body and its cells. Certain types are synthetically formulated by drug makers, and they have been shown to kill cancer cells much as chemotherapy does. Like chemotherapy, steroid cancer treatment may lead to side effects in many individuals.

Because of this link between steroids and cancer, steroid treatment may be used to kill certain form of cancer. It is not commonly used on its own as a treatment method, so it is typically combined with chemotherapy and other treatments. The effectiveness will depend on the type of cancer and how aggressive it is, as well as the overall health of the patient. In many situations, steroids are not used unless chemotherapy or radiation alone is not working.


Steroid therapy may be administered in one of several ways. The steroids may be given as a liquid intravenously or they may be injected directly into a vein through a single injection. Oral pills and tablets are also used in many cases. The type of delivery method used will depend on the patient and doctor involved and will be decided on a patient by patient basis.

Although this link between steroids and cancer exists, steroids are still not recommended as any sort of prevention method. They can have severe side effects and they have been linked with health complications when used improperly. For these reasons, patients who are newly diagnosed with cancer should not attempt to take steroids themselves. Only particular types are effective since not all forms of steroids and cancer are linked.

Side effects of steroid treatment can include damage to the stomach lining, fatigue, and increased appetite. This may lead to weight gain if food consumption is not controlled properly. Effects on the bones and muscles may also occur, depending on the type of steroid given.


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