Buserelin is a hormone therapy drug and is also known by its brand name, Suprefact or Suprecur.
It is a treatment for prostate cancer.
How it works
Buserelin is a type of hormone therapy known as a LH (luteinising hormone) blocker. It stops the pituitary gland releasing luteinising hormone. This stops the testicles producing testosterone.
Prostate cancer depends on testosterone to grow. So buserelin can shrink the cancer or slow its growth.
How you have it
You have buserelin as an injection under the skin. After several injections you have it as a nasal spray.
You usually have injections under the skin (subcutaneous injection) into the stomach, thigh or top of your arm.
You might have stinging or a dull ache for a short time after this type of injection but they don't usually hurt much. The skin in the area may go red and itchy for a while.
The video below shows you how to give an injection just under your skin (subcutaneously).
Nurse: This is a short film showing you how to give an injection just under your skin. This is called a subcutaneous or sub cut injection. This does not replace what your doctors and nurses tell you, so always follow their advice.
Voiceover: Subcutaneous injections may be part of your cancer treatment. Or, you may need them to prevent side effects of treatment, such as blood clots after surgery. Or to help control cancer symptoms, such as pain or sickness.
Most injections come in prefilled syringes.
Nurse: So, today I am going to show you how to give a subcutaneous injection. I am going to start by giving it into a practice cushion and then you can have a go at giving one yourself. Before you start, you need to get your equipment together. What you are going to need is an alcohol wipe to clean your skin, some cotton wool, a prefilled syringe and a sharps bin. It is important that you wash your hands with soap and water and dry them thoroughly before you start. Check that you have got the correct drug and that it is in date.
You can give the injection into the back of your arm, your tummy, your thigh or the outer part of your bottom. It is important that you vary where you give the injection. So it may be that you give it one day in your tummy and the next in your thigh.
So you start by cleaning the skin with the alcohol wipe and allowing it to air dry. Then you take the cover off the needle and pinch the skin up and hold it a bit like a pen and in an upright position, in a quick dart like motion pop it straight down into the skin. Then you press the plunger right to the end, quickly pull the needle out, dab it with cotton wool, pop the needle into the sharps bin. And then you need to wash your hands again.
So here’s what you are going to need. If you start by checking the drug and the expiry date. And then with the alcohol wipe give your skin a clean. That’s it give it a few seconds for the air to dry it. Ok and then if you want to pick up the syringe and take the cover off the needle. Then pinch your skin up and at a ninety degree angle gently push the needle in...then press the plunger...and then quickly remove it... dab your skin with the cotton wool and put the syringe in the sharps bin.
When you have it
You have it as an injection 3 times a day for 7 days. On the 8th day you start using buserelin as a nasal spray.
You spray the drug into each nostril 6 times a day. One way of remembering to do this is to use the spray before and after each meal. So you can have the treatment before and after breakfast, lunch and your evening meal.
You continue taking the buserelin for as long as it is working.
Tests during treatment
You have blood tests before starting treatment and during your treatment. They check your levels of testosterone every 3 months. They also check the levels of blood cells and other substances in the blood. Other tests see how well your liver and kidneys are working.
We haven't listed all the side effects. It is very unlikely that you will have all of these side effects, but you might have some of them at the same time.
How often and how severe the side effects are can vary from person to person. They also depend on what other treatment you are having. For example, your side effects could be worse if you are also having other drugs or radiotherapy.
When to contact your team
Your doctor or nurse will go through the possible side effects. They will monitor you closely during treatment and check how you are at your appointments. Contact your advice line as soon as possible if:
- you have severe side effects
- your side effects aren’t getting any better
- your side effects are getting worse
Possible side effects include:
- tummy (abdominal) pain
- joint or muscle pain
- bowel changes
- swollen hands and feet (fluid build up)
- hot flushes
- fast heart rate
- feeling or being sick
- skin rash
- loss of interest in sex
- breast swelling (gynaecomastia)
- weight gain or weight loss
- blood pressure changes
- tiredness and weakness (fatigue)
- shrinking testicles (atrophy)
- mood changes (such as depression or anxiety)
- bruising at injection site
- headaches and drowsiness
- bone thinning which can increase your risk of bone fractures
- hair thinning or thickening
- numbness or tingling in hands or feet
- difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
- liver changes
- splitting nails
- dry eyes
- feeling thirsty
- appetite changes
- problems with memory or concentration
- eyesight changes
- ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- second cancers
- allergic reaction
- increased risk of getting an infection
- bruising, bleeding gums or nosebleeds
- changes in blood sugar levels
Coping with side effects
We have more information about side effects and tips on how to cope with them.
At the start of treatment
When you start treatment with buserelin, testosterone can temporarily rise, before it drops to low levels. This is called tumour flare.
This might cause temporary worsening of side effects such as bone pain or weakness.
What else do I need to know?
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.
Treatment for other conditions
Always tell other doctors, nurses, pharmacists or dentists that you’re having this treatment if you need treatment for anything else, including teeth problems.
It is important not to father a child while you are having treatment with this drug and for a few months afterwards. This drug may harm a baby developing in the womb. Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception before starting treatment.
Don’t breastfeed during this treatment because the drug may come through into your breast milk.
Other medical conditions
If you have diabetes, high blood pressure or depression, tell your doctor. All of these conditions can be affected by buserelin treatment.
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.