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What is Buserelin?

By D. Jeffress
Updated May 17, 2024
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Buserelin is a prescription drug that is primarily used to treat prostate cancer in men, though it may also be administered to combat breast cancer, endometriosis, and other female hormonal conditions. It works by inhibiting the secretion of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) by the pituitary gland. Without LH and FSH, testosterone and estrogen cannot be produced. As a result, tumors begin to shrink and endometriosis symptoms are relieved. There are risks of potentially serious side effects with buserelin, so it is important to keep regular doctor appointments to monitor patient health.

LH and FSH are gonadotropin hormones that control the release of sex hormones. Buserelin is classified as a gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist, which means that it disrupts activity in the pituitary gland to prevent LH and FSH production. Prostate tumors thrive on available testosterone, and when the hormone is in short supply cancer cells begin to shrink and die. Breast cancer, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids rely on steady estrogen supplies, so they are also responsive to buserelin.

Buserelin is available as a nasal spray and an intravenous injection. In general, adult patients are instructed to use two sprays in each nostril every eight hours. Pre-measured injection vials provided by the doctor are usually designed to be used once every eight hours. A physician may lower or increase exact dosage amounts depending on the the patient's overall health and response to initial dosages. The prescribing doctor or a nurse can help the patient learn how to properly use injection kits and nasal sprays at home.

The most common buserelin side effects in women may mimic signs of menopause, such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, irregular or missed periods, and infertility. A male patient may notice a decrease in sexual function and desire. Both sexes can experience diarrhea, nausea, headaches, and light-headedness. When using the nasal spray, bloody noses and temporary congestion may occur. If a person has numbness, swelling, or pain in the extremities, he or she may be experiencing signs of a serious reaction that needs to be treated at a hospital.

Patients who meet regularly with their physicians and take their medications as directed can usually avoid major side effects. Doctors gauge the success of treatment by asking about symptoms and taking imaging tests to see if tumors are shrinking. If cancer persists or spreads, additional treatment in the form of surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation may be considered.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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