Femara® is a brand name for the letrozole prescription drug. This drug is often prescribed for postmenopausal women with breast cancer and may slow the growth of some breast tumors. Patients who take letrozole typically experience a reduction in estrogen levels that may affect the development of certain estrogen-dependent tumors. In some cases, doctors prescribe Femara® to breast cancer patients who have also taken tamoxifen. Letrozole may cause some side effects, and some doctors may not recommend the drug for all women.
Physicians typically prescribe Femara® to be taken orally with a glass of water. Patients can take this drug either with or without food in most cases. Some people may have allergic reactions to letrozole that may require medical treatment in some instances. Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include breathing problems or skin hives. In some cases, Femara® patients can develop swelling of the throat, tongue or face as well as the lips as a result of an allergy to this drug.
Side effects may also occur in some women who use Femara®, including joint pain, muscle pain and headaches. Night sweats and hot flashes as well as redness or warmth in the chest or face can occur in some cases. Some women have reported nausea and weight gain after taking this drug. Other side effects may include feelings of weakness and fatigue as well as swelling of the feet, ankles or hands. In most instances, patients may benefit from discussing their side effects with a doctor to determine whether continued treatment with this drug is appropriate.
Some doctors may provide special monitoring or a dosage adjustments for some Femara® patients who have liver disease. This medication may cause birth defects, and this drug is typically not prescribed for pregnant women. Some physicians may not recommend this drug to breastfeeding mothers, because its potential effects on nursing infants are not generally known. In some cases, women who take letrozole can develop impaired thinking or delayed reactions that can affect their alertness while driving or performing other kinds of tasks that typically require alertness. The alertness of a patient may be even more reduced in some situations where alcoholic beverages are consumed.
A woman’s doctor typically conducts a thorough medical examination and evaluates a patient’s medical history prior to prescribing Femara®. The use of estrogen drugs such as conjugated estrogens and ethinyl estradiol may cause unwanted drug interactions with letrozole. Other drugs can produce interactions in some instances when taken concurrently with letrozole, including raloxifene and anastrozole. Some women may experience an increased risk of bone loss from letrozole treatment.