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What Is Letrozole

What Is Letrozole

Description

Letrozole is used treat early breast cancer in women who have experienced menopause (change of life; end of monthly menstrual periods) and who have had other treatments, such as radiation or surgery to remove the tumor. It is also used to treat early breast cancer in women who have experienced menopause and who have already been treated with a medication called tamoxifen (Nolvadex) for 5 years. Letrozole is also used in women who have experienced menopause as a first treatment of breast cancer that has spread within the breast or to other areas of the body or in women whose breast cancer has worsened while they were taking tamoxifen. Letrozole is in a class of medications called nonsteroidal aromatase inhibitors. It works by decreasing the amount of estrogen produced by the body. This can slow or stop the growth of some types of breast cancer cells that need estrogen to grow.

How Letrozole Works

Hormones are chemical substances that are produced by glands in the body, which enter the bloodstream and cause effects in other tissues.  For example, the hormone testosterone made in the testicles and is responsible for male characteristics such as deepening voice and increased body hair.  The use of hormone therapy to treat cancer is based on the observation that receptors for specific hormones that are needed for cell growth are on the surface of some tumor cells.  Hormone therapies work by stopping the production of a certain hormone, blocking hormone receptors, or substituting chemically similar agents for the active hormone, which cannot be used by the tumor cell.  The different types of hormone therapies are categorized by their function and/or the type of hormone that is effected.

How should this medicine be used?

Letrozole comes as a tablet to take by mouth once a day with or without food. Take letrozole at around the same time every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take letrozole exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.You may need to take letrozole for several years or longer. Continue to take letrozole even if you feel well. Do not stop taking letrozole without talking to your doctor.

Common side effects of letrozole include

  • allergic reaction (difficulty breathing, swelling of your face, lips, tongue or throat, hives)
  • back pain
  • bone fractures
  • bone pain
  • breast pain
  • chest pain
  • constipation
  • cough
  • decreased weight
  • sweating
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • Warnings
  • This medication contains letrozole. Do not take Femara if you are allergic to letrozole or any ingredients contained in this drug.
  • Keep out of reach of children. In case of overdose, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center immediately.

Precautions

  • Use caution in liver impairment
  • May cause dizziness, sleepiness and fatigue
  • May increase total serum cholesterol
  • Increased risk of osteoporosis
  • Avoid concomitant estrogens
  • Risk of birth defects if given to pregnant women

 

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