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What is Leuprolide Acetate?

Article Details
  • Written By: Jacquelyn Gilchrist
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 05 January 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2019
    Conjecture Corporation
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Leuprolide acetate is a medication most often prescribed to patients with advanced prostate cancer who have not responded to other treatments. A doctor will prescribe it for palliative care, which means it is intended to treat the symptoms of the disease. It may also be used for ovarian or breast cancer, as well as anemia, endometriosis, and premature puberty. Leuprolide acetate is available in the form of an injection.

This medication is classified as a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist. It works slightly differently in women versus men. Women taking a GnRH agonist will not produce as much estrogen, whereas men will decrease their production of testosterone. This can help treat diseases like prostate cancer, because abnormal cells are encouraged to grow and multiply with the presence of these hormones. It also helps to counter premature puberty; however, a doctor is not likely to prescribe this treatment for boys ages 12 and older, or for girls ages 11 and older.

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Leuprolide acetate is typically injected once daily under the skin. A health care professional may inject it, or he may show the patient how to perform the injection at home. Patients injecting it themselves must take all sanitary precautions to prevent an infection. They must wash their hands thoroughly before administering the shot, avoid touching the needle, and use an alcohol wipe on the area of skin to be injected, as well as on the rubber stopper and metal ring of the container prior to each use.

After placing the end of the plunger at the proper dosage indicator mark, the container must be turned upside down with the needle inside it. The syringe plunger may then be withdrawn until the proper amount of solution fills the syringe. Patients may then remove the syringe and inject the sterilized area of skin quickly at a 90 degree angle. The plunger must be depressed completely so that the patient receives the full dosage.

While taking leuprolide acetate, patients should be aware of possible side effects, which should be reported to the physician as soon as possible. Nausea, vomiting, and insomnia may occur, along with constipation, headache, and mood changes. Some patients may notice a decreased sex drive and hot flashes. Enlargement of the breasts may also occur, along with weight gain and swelling of the lower legs and feet. Changes in menstruation, vaginal discomfort, and pelvic pain may also occur in women.

Some side effects from the use of leuprolide acetate require immediate medical attention. These can include problems swallowing or breathing, hives, and a rash. Bone pain, numbness, and weakness may occur. Other patients may notice bloody or painful urination, prostate or testicular pain, or problems moving their arms or legs.

Before using leuprolide acetate, patients must disclose their other medical conditions, medications, and supplements to the prescribing physician. Women who are nursing or pregnant should not use this GnRH agonist. Leuprolide acetate may decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills, so patients should use a barrier method of birth control. Patients should discuss their use of alcohol and tobacco, as well as antacids, blood thinners, and diuretics with their doctor.

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