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Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Leuprolide (Eligard®, Lupron Depot®)


Brand Names: Eligard®, Lupron Depot®, Viadur®

Leuprolide is used to treat symptoms of advanced prostate cancer. It may also be used to treat anemia associated with tumors in the uterus. This drug has other uses unrelated to cancer.

Leuprolide is part of a class of drugs called gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists. GnRH is a naturally occurring hormone, but this synthetic version is more potent. In men, this drug works by reducing the amount of testosterone in the body. Lowering the levels of testosterone is one way to treat prostate cancer. In women, leuprolide lowers the amount of estrogen, which can shrink uterine tumors. This shrinkage helps prevent anemia that can result from vaginal bleeding of these tumors.

This medication is given as an injection into a muscle (intramuscularly). Usually, leuprolide is given once monthly or less frequently. The exact schedule of care depends on the condition being treated, the extent of disease, and other factors.

Leuprolide side effects

To prevent problematic interactions between leuprolide and other drugs, be sure to tell your doctor if you are allergic to any medications, and what other medications and supplements you are currently taking. You should also inform your doctor if you have or ever had vaginal bleeding, osteoporosis, a history of heavy use of alcohol or tobacco, diabetes, high blood pressure, liver tumor, liver disease, or kidney disease, if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, or if you are breastfeeding.

Women should not breastfeed while taking leuprolide. This drug can make skin sensitive to sunlight, so it is best to avoid unnecessary or prolonged exposure to sunlight, and to wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen.

Possible side effects of leuprolide may include:

  • Tiredness
  • Hot flashes
  • Breast tenderness or changes in breast size in both men and women
  • Vaginal discharge, dryness or itching in women
  • Spotting (light vaginal bleeding) or menstruation
  • Decrease in size of testicles
  • Decrease in sexual ability or desire
  • Swelling of hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
  • Pain, burning, or tingling in hands or feet
  • Pain, burning, bruising, or hardening at place where injection was given
  • Weight change
  • Depression, mood changes, nervousness, uneasiness
  • Flu-like symptoms

Some of leuprolide’s side effects can be serious. Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Redness or swelling at place where injection was given
  • Itching, rash, or hives
  • Slow or difficult speech
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Weakness, numbness, or inability to move an arm or leg
  • Bone pain
  • Painful, frequent, or difficult urination
  • Blood in urine
  • Extreme thirst
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fruity-smelling breath
  • Decreased consciousness
  • Vision changes
  • Confusion

Please note that this is not a comprehensive list. Patients may experience additional effects not mentioned above.

At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), your team of cancer experts will explain each of the side effects of leuprolide with you in detail, as well as the side effects and expectations of all other medications planned as part of your individualized treatment plan.

Leuprolide for cancer treatment

Leuprolide is approved by the FDA for:

  • Palliative treatment of advanced prostate cancer

At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), our integrative approach to cancer treatment works to fight your disease on all fronts and ensures that you remain at the center of everything we do. We encourage participation from both you and your family to make certain you are comfortable with all decisions made regarding your treatment.

The information provided here is for educational purposes only. In no way should it be considered as offering medical advice. Cancer Treatment Centers of America assumes no responsibility for how this material is used. Please check with a physician if you suspect you are ill. Also note that while Cancer Treatment Centers of America frequently updates its contents, medical information changes rapidly. Therefore, some information may be out of date.