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Megestrol acetate (Megace)

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

Megestrol acetate is a type of hormone treatment. It is also called Megace or megestrol. It is a man made version of the hormone progesterone. Progesterone is one of the female hormones but men also produce a small amount of it. 

Megestrol acetate is a treatment for the following cancers that have come back or spread from where they started.

  • breast cancer
  • womb cancer

It is also a treatment for poor appetite. Your doctor might suggest you take it if you have lost weight because of cancer or its treatment. Doctors might also use it as a treatment for women who have hot flushes due to their cancer or its treatment. 

How Megace works

Megestrol can interfere with the hormone balance in the body so that the body makes smaller amounts of the hormones that some cancers depend on to grow. It may also interact with other hormones or have a direct effect on the cancer to stop it growing.

How you have megestrol acetate

You have megestrol acetate as tablets.

When you have megestrol acetate

You usually take megestrol acetate once a day, at the same time each day. But sometimes the dose is divided up, so that you take the tablets a couple of times a day.

Taking your tablets

You must take tablets 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.

If you miss a dose and remember within a few hours, you can take it as soon as possible. But if it is almost time for your next dose, miss the forgotten dose and carry on as before. Don't take an extra dose to make up for the one that you missed.

If you accidentally take too many tablets, let your doctor know, or go to your nearest accident and emergency department straight away.

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.

About side effects

Important information

Other medicines, food 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.

Pregnancy and conception

This treatment might harm a baby developing in the womb. It is important not to become pregnant or 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.


Don’t breastfeed during this treatment because the drug may come through in your breast milk.

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.