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Leuprolide  for Prostate Cancer


Leuprolide injection, known by the brand name of Lupron, is primarily used for the treatment of advance prostate cancer. Though this drug is not a cure for prostate cancer, it helps in reducing the growth of the cancerous cells and also reduces the enlargement of the tumor. The drug is also used in reducing the painful symptoms of the disease.  


Indications: Prostate cancer refers to abnormal growth of malignant cells in the prostate glands. The symptoms may include severe back pain, pain in the pelvic areas, and problem in urinating and frequent urination. Besides other treatment like surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, anti-cancer drugs like leuprolide are also being used in conjunction with the above therapies for treating the prostate cancer. The major reason for proliferation of malignancy is the rapid multiplication of male hormone testosterone. The drug leuprolide helps in controlling the production of this hormone, thus reducing the spread of the disease to a greater extent. 


Leuprolide is also being used for controlling the early puberty that is found in many children. The medicine is also used for other treatments like, delaying the bone growth and controlled development of sex hormones. 


Dosage: The medicine is basically given in the form of injection once in a day. In some advanced cases the doctors may prescribe higher doses also. However, the dosage will differ in case of children considering their height and weight. In children the dosage of Leuprolide is ceased before the age of 11 years in girls and 12 years in boys.  


Contraindication: As Leuprolide contains benzyl alcohol, it may cause some allergic reactions in certain patients. Long term use of this drug may cause the risk of excessive bone loss and lead to osteoporosis. Doctor must be informed if the patient is suffering from diabetes, heart problems, and other medical issues. 


Mechanism of Action (MOA): Similar to natural occurrence of luteinizing hormone–releasing hormone (LHRH), sporadic administration of leuprolide encourages release of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH).  


Release of FSH and LH enhances concentration of testosterone and dihydrotestosterone in males. Regular administration of this drug inhibits secretion of gonadotropin-releasing hormone with reduced testosterone concentrations. It also brings decline in concentration of estrone (one of the three natural estrogenic hormones found in the body), estradiol, and progesterone to post-menopausal levels.  


Interaction: Leuprolide is likely to cause interactions with drugs like prednisone, corticosteroids, phenytoin and other anti-seizure medications. If the patient has taken any of these drugs it is important to bring it to the notice of the doctor.  


Side Effects: Several side effects caused by Leuprolide are associated with testosterone insufficiency (hypotestosteronism) in males and estrogen deficiency (hypoestrogenism) in females. Besides, patients must remain alert towards indication of any of the following side effects:  

  • Syncope (fainting) 
  • Body pain 
  • Vaginal bleeding 
  • Blurred vision 
  • Poor libido 
  • Weight gain 
  • Constipation 
  • Paresthesias (numbness of feet or hands) 
  • Cardiac arrhythmias / palpitations (irregular or fast heartbeat) 
  • Androgenic effects (increase in hair growth; deepening of voice) 
  • Behavioral or personality changes (anxiety, mood changes, mental depression, and nervousness) 
  • Anaphylaxis (irregular breathing; puffy eyelids, discoloration of facial skin, swelling of the eyes and eyelids, breathlessness, tightness in throat or chest, skin rashes, itching and sudden decrease in blood pressure)