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Estramustine (Estracyt)

Find out what estramustine is, how you have it and other important information about taking estramustine.

Estramustine is a cancer treatment and is also known by its brand name, Estracyt. 

It is made up from 2 types of drugs combined:

  • a hormone called oestrogen
  • a chemotherapy drug called nitrogen mustard

Estramustine is a treatment for prostate cancer that has spread if hormone treatments are no longer working.

How it works

Estramustine works by stopping cancer cells from separating into 2 new cells. This blocks the growth of the cancer. It might also block hormones in the body from encouraging the cancer cells to grow.

How you have it

Estramustine comes as capsules which you take every day. The capsules are usually taken 3 to 4 times a day. Take them at the same time each day on an empty stomach. You need to avoid food:

  • 1 hour before taking them
  • 2 hours after taking them

Some foods and medicines can affect how well your body absorbs estramustine. So you shouldn't take the capsules with:

  • milk
  • antacid medicines
  • foods high in calcium

Talk to your doctor if you have diabetes or heart problems. Tell your doctor if you are taking blood pressure medicines called ACE inhibitors. 

You might not be able to have this drug if you have liver disease or a history of blood clots or stomach ulcers. 

Taking your capsules

You must take capsules according to the instructions your doctor or pharmacist gives you.

You should take the right dose, not more or less.

Never stop taking a cancer drug without talking to your specialist first.

When you have it

You have estramustine as cycles of treatment. Usually you take estramustine daily for 6 weeks, followed by a 2 week break.  

Tests during treatment

You have blood tests before starting treatment and during your treatment. They check your levels of blood cells and other substances in the blood. They also check how well your liver and kidneys are working.

Side effects

Important information

Other medicines, foods and drink

Cancer drugs can interact with some other medicines and herbal products. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about any medicines you are taking. This includes vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter remedies.

Contraception

This treatment may harm a baby. So it is important not to father a child while you are having treatment and for a few months afterwards. Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception before starting treatment.

Fertility

This treatment might stop you being able to father a child.

Talk to your doctor before starting treatment if you think you may want to have a baby in the future.

You may be able to store sperm before starting treatment.

Usually, fertility returns to normal after a few months or sometimes years. You can have sperm counts to check your fertility when your treatment is over. Ask your doctor about it.

Treatment for other conditions

Always tell other doctors, nurses or dentists that you’re having this treatment if you need treatment for anything else, including teeth problems.

Immunisations

Don’t have immunisations with live vaccines while you’re having treatment and for at least 6 months afterwards.

In the UK, live vaccines include rubella, mumps, measles, BCG, yellow fever and Zostavax (shingles vaccine).

You can:

  • have other vaccines, but they might not give you as much protection as usual
  • have the flu vaccine
  • be in contact with other people who've had live vaccines as injections

Avoid contact with people who’ve had live vaccines taken by mouth (oral vaccines). This includes the rotavirus vaccine given to babies. The virus is in the baby’s urine for up to 2 weeks and can make you ill. So, you mustn't change their nappies for 2 weeks after their vaccination.

You also need to avoid anyone who has had oral polio or typhoid vaccination recently.

More information about this treatment

For further information about this treatment go to the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) website.

You can report any side effect you have to the Medicines Health and Regulatory Authority (MHRA) as part of their Yellow Card Scheme.

Information and help

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About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.