Leuprorelin

Leuprorelin is a type of hormone therapy Open a glossary item known as a LHRH Open a glossary item  (luteinising hormone-releasing hormone) agonist. It is also known as Prostap or Staladex.

It is used in the treatment of prostate cancer and breast cancer.

How does leuprorelin work?

Prostate cancer

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

Breast cancer

You may have leuprorelin as a treatment for breast cancer. You may have it if the cancer has oestrogen receptors (ER positive Open a glossary item) and you haven’t gone through the menopause Open a glossary item.

Leuprorelin lowers the level of oestrogen in the body by stopping the ovaries making oestrogen. This is because high levels of oestrogen can help the cancer to grow. It is given on its own or with other hormone therapies.

How do you have leuprorelin?

You have leuprorelin as an injection either:

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

The injection is called a depot injection. It means that you slowly absorb the drug into your body over a period of time. 

How often do you have leuprorelin?

You can have leuprorelin either:

  • once a month
  • every 3 months or
  • every 6 months

You must have your injection on time. Contact your healthcare team if you have missed an injection.

You must have your injection on time. Contact your healthcare team if you have missed an injection.

Tests

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 is working.

What are the side effects of leuprorelin?

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. 

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.

What are the temporary side effects of leuprorelin when used for prostate cancer?

If you are having leuprorelin to treat prostate cancer, you might have an increase in symptoms after your first dose of this drug. This may carry on for a few weeks. This is called tumour flare. Your doctor might give you another type of hormone drug to prevent the symptoms of tumour flare. 

Symptoms of tumour flare include:

  • increased pain or difficulty passing urine
  • bone pain
  • back pain
  • blood in your urine
  • a feeling of pins and needles in your legs

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

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

Common side effects

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

Skin reaction around the injection site

Reactions include redness, irritation, hardening or ulcers appearing around the injection site. Tell your nurse or contact your advice line if you notice any of these.

Tell your nurse if you notice any signs of redness or irritation around the injection site.

Loss of interest in sex

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

Hot flushes and sweating 

We have some tips for coping with hot flushes and the possible treatments for men and women. Talk to your doctor if your hot flushes are hard to cope with. They might be able to prescribe you some medicines.

Tiredness and weakness (fatigue)

Tiredness and weakness (fatigue) can happen during and after treatment. Doing gentle exercises each day can keep your energy up. Don't push yourself, rest when you start to feel tired and ask others for help.

Weight gain

You may gain weight while having this treatment. You may be able to control it with diet and exercise. Tell your healthcare team if you are finding it difficult to control your weight. 

You might feel some pain from your muscles and joints. Speak to your doctor or nurse about what painkillers you can take to help with this.

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.

Smaller testicles and loss of function

Your testicles might get smaller in size and might not work. Talk to your doctor or nurse if this happens and it concerns you.

Muscles weakness and bone pain

You might feel pain in your bones and loss of strength in your muscles. Speak to your doctor or nurse for help with this.

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:

  • aching joints
  • breast swelling
  • swollen hands and feet
  • headaches and dizziness
  • changes in blood sugar levels
  • depression
  • mood changes - the longer you have leuprorelin the more common these mood changes become
  • loss of appetite
  • difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • liver changes that are usually temporary
  • feeling sick

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:

  • dizziness
  • diarrhoea
  • numbness or tingling in fingers or toes
  • being sick

Women may also have the following rare side effects:

  • a high temperature
  • tiredness
  • hair loss
  • a fast heartbeat (palpitations)
  • problems with their eyesight

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 clots in the lungs causing breathlessness and pain in the chest or upper back. Contact your advice line or doctor straight away as this can be life threatening
  • allergic reaction that can cause a rash, shortness of breath, redness or swelling of the face and dizziness - some allergic reactions can be life threatening, alert your nurse or doctor if notice any of these symptoms
  • a drop in blood cells causing bruising, bleeding gums, nosebleeds or an increased risk of infection
  • eyesight changes
  • high temperature (fever) or chills
  • muscles not working (paralysis)
  • changes to the heartbeat
  • bone thinning (osteoporosis)
  • changes in the amount of sugar and cholesterol in the blood
  • lump at the injection site
  • increased pain or difficulty passing urine
  • changes in blood pressure either high or low
  • yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice) caused by the liver not working well
  • inflammation of the lungs and other lung problems
  • increased pressure around the brain symptoms include headache, double vision and other visual symptoms and ringing or buzzing in one or both ears
  • seizures (fits)

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, food 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.

Loss of fertility

You may not be able to become pregnant or father a child after treatment with this drug. Talk to your doctor before starting treatment if you think you may want to have a baby in the future.

Men might be able to store sperm before starting treatment. And women might be able to store eggs or ovarian tissue. But these services are not available in every hospital, so you would need to ask your doctor about this.    

Pregnancy and contraception

This treatment might harm a baby developing in the womb. It is important not to become pregnant or father a child while you're having treatment.

Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception before starting treatment. Women should use a non hormonal form of contraception. Your periods may stop during leuprorelin, but you could still get pregnant.

Breastfeeding
 

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

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.

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.

Related links