Leuprorelin (Prostap, Lutrate) | Cancer Research UK
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What leuprorelin is

Leuprorelin is pronounced loop-row-rel-in. It is also called Prostap or Lutrate. It is a type of hormone therapy treatment for prostate cancer.


How leuprorelin works

Prostate cancer depends on testosterone to grow. Leuprorelin lowers the level of testosterone made by the testicles. So leuprorelin can shrink the cancer or slow its growth.


How you have leuprorelin

You have leuprorelin as

  • An injection into a muscle in your leg or buttocks or
  • An injection just under the skin (subcutaneously) into fatty tissue in your abdomen, thigh or upper arm

The injection is called a depot injection, which means that you slowly absorb the drug into your body over a period of time. You have the injection every month or every 3 months. 

You can read about having injections into a muscle or under the skin.

It is important to make sure you have the injection on time. If you are more than a few days late having the injection your body may start making testosterone again.


Tests during treatment

You have blood tests before starting treatment and regularly during your treatment. The tests 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

We've listed the side effects associated with leuprorelin. You can use the links to find out more about each side effect. Where there is no link, please go to our information about cancer drug side effects or use the search box at the top of the page.

You may have a few side effects. They may be mild or more severe. A side effect may get better or worse through your course of treatment. Or more side effects may develop as the course goes on. This depends on

  • How many times you've had the drug before
  • Your general health
  • The amount of the drug you have (the dose)

The side effects may be different if you are having leuprorelin with other medicines.

Tell your doctor or nurse straight away if any of the side effects get severe.


Temporary side effects when treatment starts

Men having leuprorelin for prostate cancer may have an increase in symptoms called tumour flare for the first few weeks of the treatment. Your doctor may give you another type of hormone drug to start with, to try to prevent this. The symptoms of tumour flare include

  • Increased pain or difficulty passing urine
  • Bone pain
  • Back pain
  • Blood in the urine
  • A pins and needles feeling in the legs

Tell your doctor or nurse if you have any of these effects.


Common side effects

More than 10 in every 100 people have one or more of these.

  • Problems getting an erection (impotence) – this may get better within 3 to 12 months after the treatment ends
  • Low sex drive (low libido)
  • Skin rashes are usually mild – let your doctor know if you have skin problems
  • Painful joints
  • Hot flushes and sweats occur in half of men (50%) – these may last as long as treatment continues. If they are difficult to cope with tell your doctor or nurse
  • Breast tenderness and swelling – this can be uncomfortable. Let your doctor or nurse know as you may be able to have medicines to help
  • Tiredness and weakness (fatigue) during treatment
  • Swollen ankles and legs due to a build up of fluid (oedema), which is usually mild
  • Changes in your heart rhythm and blood pressure – your nurse or doctor will check your blood pressure and you will have ECGs regularly. Most men can continue taking leuprorelin and these effects usually go back to normal during or after treatment

Occasional side effects

Between 1 and 10 in every 100 men have one or more of these.

  • Bruising of the skin where you have the injection
  • Headaches – let your doctor or nurse know if the headaches are severe
  • Feeling or being sick – this is usually mild and can be controlled by anti sickness medicines
  • Weight gain – you may find that you put on weight easily. You may be able to control this with diet and exercise, but it is often difficult to keep weight down when you are having hormone treatment
  • Taste changes
  • The levels of sugar in your blood may change. You will have regular blood tests. If you are diabetic, you may need to check your blood sugar levels more often
  • Sadness or depression – let your doctor or nurse know if you feel depressed
  • Dizziness and eyesight changes – don't drive or operate machinery if you have this
  • Diarrhoea – drink plenty of fluids if you have diarrhoea. Let your doctor or nurse know if it lasts more than a few days or gets severe
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Pain in the bones or muscles
  • Tingling in the hands or feet
  • Liver changes that are very mild and  unlikely to cause symptoms – they will almost certainly go back to normal when treatment ends

Rare side effects

Fewer than 1 in 100 people have these.

  • Bone thinning may occur with long term treatment
  • Your cholesterol levels may go up after several months of treatment – you will have blood tests to check the levels
  • An abscess at the injection site – tell your doctor or nurse if you have a sore, red, hard area around the area of the injection
  • Breathlessness and chest pain due to a blood clot in the lung – let your doctor or nurse know straight away if you have this
  • Not being able to pass urine – tell your doctor or nurse straight away if you can't pass urine
  • Weakness or loss of sensation in legs or arms – let your doctor or nurse know straight away if you have this
  • A high temperature and chills
  • Low levels of platelets in the blood leading to an increased risk of bruising or bleeding – let your doctor or nurse know if you have this
  • An increased risk of getting an infection from a drop in white blood cells – it is harder to fight infections and you can become very ill. Tell your doctor or nurse if you have headaches, aching muscles, a cough, a sore throat, pain passing urine or if you feel cold and shivery
  • An allergic reaction to the drug – let your doctor or nurse know if you have breathlessness or swelling or the lips, face or throat soon after having the drug

Important points to remember

Talk to your doctor, pharmacist or nurse about all your side effects so they can help you manage them. They can give you advice or reassure you. Your nurse will give you a contact number to ring if you have any questions or problems. If in doubt, call them.

Other medicines

Tell your doctor about any other medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter remedies. Some drugs can react together.


Leuprorelin may have a harmful effect on a developing baby so you should not father a child while having treatment. Discuss contraception with your doctor or nurse before you start your treatment.


More information about leuprorelin

This page does not list all the very rare side effects of this treatment that are very unlikely to affect you. For further information look at the Electronic Medicines Compendium website at www.medicines.org.uk.

If you have a side effect not mentioned here that you think may be due to this treatment you can report it to the Medicines Health and Regulatory Authority (MHRA) at www.mhra.gov.uk.

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Updated: 6 July 2015