Goserelin for prostate cancer

Goserelin is a type of hormone therapy. Open a glossary item You pronounce goserelin as gohs-eer-lin.

It is also known as Zoladex. You might have it as a treatment for breast or prostate cancer.

This page is about goserelin for prostate cancer.

How does goserelin work?

Goserelin is a type of hormone therapy called luteinising hormone blocker (LH blocker Open a glossary item). This means it stops the release of luteinising hormone from the pituitary gland. This stops the testicles producing the male sex hormone testosterone.

Prostate cancer depends on testosterone to grow. The aim of hormone therapy for prostate cancer is to reduce or stop the body making testosterone, which slows down the growth of cancer or shrinks it.

How do you have goserelin?

You have goserelin as an injection just under the skin of your tummy (abdomen). It is called a depot injection, which means that the drug is slowly absorbed into your body over a period of time. 

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.

How often do you have goserelin?

You have the injection every 4 weeks or every 12 weeks. If you have it every 12 weeks, you have a type of goserelin called Zoladex LA. 

Let your doctor or nurse know if the gap between your appointments isn’t 4 or 12 weeks. They will make sure you have the injection on time. 

You usually have goserelin injections for a long period of time.


You have blood tests before 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.

What are the side effects of goserelin?

Side effects can vary from person to person. They also depend on what other treatment you are having. 

When to contact your team

Your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist 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

Early treatment can help manage side effects better.

We haven't listed all the side effects here. Remember it is very unlikely that you will have all of these side effects, but you might have some of them at the same time.

Common side effects

These side effects happen in more than 10 in 100 people (more than 10%). You might have one or more of them. They include:

Hot flushes and sweats

We have some tips for coping with hot flushes in men. This information also includes some of the possible treatments. Talk to your doctor if your hot flushes are hard to cope with. They might be able to prescribe you some medicines.

This can continue for some time after you stop having goserelin. 

Less interest in sex (low libido)

Talk to your doctor if you have this. You might be able to have some treatments to help with low libido. 

Erection problems

You might have problems getting an erection (impotence). Talk to your doctor or nurse if you have problems getting an erection. There are treatments that can help, such as medicines, vacuum pumps and injections or pellets. Your doctor or nurse can refer you to a specialist in this area.

Occasional side effects

These side effects happen in between 1 and 10 out of every 100 people (between 1 and 10%). You might have one or more of them. They include:

  • pressure on the spinal cord. Symptoms include back pain, numbness, pins and needles in the toes, fingers, or buttocks, unsteadiness, difficulty walking, legs giving way, or problems controlling urine or stools. Contact your advice line or healthcare team.
  • high blood sugar levels
  • changes in your mood (including depression)
  • tingling in the fingers or toes
  • soreness and reddening at injection site
  • heart problems which can be serious
  • changes in blood pressure
  • skin rash
  • pain in the bones and thinning of the bones
  • swelling of the breasts
  • weight gain

Rare side effects

This side effects happens in fewer than 1 in 100 people (fewer than 1%). You might have one or more of them. They include:

  • development of a pituitary tumour, this is very rare
  • allergic reaction such as a rash, hives on the skin, swelling of the face or shortness of breath. If this happens, see a doctor straight away.
  • seeing, hearing or feeling things that aren’t there. Always let your doctor know if this happens. This is very rare.
  • joint pain
  • a blockage in one or both of the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder
  • breasts becoming sensitive or sore

Other side effects

There isn't enough information to work out how often these side effects might happen. You might have one or more of them. They include:

  • blood clot in the lung. Symptoms include chest pain and feeling breathless. Contact your advice line or doctor straight away if you have any of these symptoms
  • a drop in the blood cells causing tiredness, increased risk of bleeding and infection
  • changes to memory
  • liver problems, yellowing of the skin and white of the eyes (jaundice)
  • hair thinning or loss
  • lung problems
  • an increase in the symptoms of prostate cancer (tumour flare). This usually happens when you first start goserelin and then goes away.

Coping with side effects

We have more information about side effects and tips on how to cope with them.

What else do you need to know?

Other medicines, foods and drink

Cancer drugs can interact with medicines, herbal products, and some food and drinks. We are unable to list all the possible interactions that may happen. An example is grapefruit or grapefruit juice which can increase the side effects of certain drugs.

Tell your healthcare team about any medicines you are taking. This includes vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter remedies. Also let them know about any other medical conditions or allergies you may have.

Pregnancy and contraception

This treatment might harm a baby developing in the womb. It is important not to get someone pregnant while you are having treatment and for a few months afterwards.

Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception before starting treatment. Let them know straight away if your partner becomes pregnant while you're having treatment.

Treatment for other conditions

If you are having tests or treatment for anything else, always mention your cancer treatment. For example, if you are visiting your dentist.

More information about this treatment

For further information about this treatment and possible side effects go to the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) website. You can find the patient information leaflet on this website.

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

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