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What Is Letrozole Used For

what is letrozole used for

Uses

This medication is used to treat certain types of breast cancer (such as hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer) in women after menopause. Letrozole is also used to help prevent the cancer from returning. Some breast cancers are made to grow faster by a natural hormone called estrogen. Letrozole decreases the amount of estrogen the body makes and helps to slow or reverse the growth of these breast cancers.

How to use Letrozole

Read the Patient Information Leaflet provided by your pharmacist before you start using letrozole and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Take this medication by mouth, usually once daily with or without food or as directed by your doctor.

Dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment.

Use this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, take it at the same time each day.

Since this drug can be absorbed through the skin and lungs, women who are pregnant should not handle this medication or breathe the dust from the tablets. (See also Precautions section.)

Why is this medication prescribed?

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 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.

Side Effects:

Important things to remember about the side effects of Letrozole:

  • Most people do not experience all of the side effects listed.
  • Side effects are often predictable in terms of their onset and duration.
  • Side effects are almost always reversible and will go away after treatment is complete.
  • There are many options to help minimize or prevent side effects.
  • There is no relationship between the presence or severity of side effects and the effectiveness of the medication.

The following side effects are common (occurring in greater than 30%) for patients taking Letrozole:

  • Hot flashes
  • High cholesterol

These side effects are less common side effects (occurring in about 10-29%) of patients receiving Letrozole:

  • Arthralgias(bone and joint pain)
  • Night sweats
  • Weight gain
  • Nausea

Not all side effects are listed above. Some that are rare (occurring in less than 10% of patients) are not listed here.  However, you should always inform your health care provider if you experience any unusual symptoms.

When is letrozole prescribed?

Letrozole is used to treat post-menopausal women with oestrogen receptor positive primary breast cancer. Taking letrozole helps reduce the chance of breast cancer returning in the same breast or spreading somewhere else in the body. It can also reduce the chances of developing a new breast cancer in the same or opposite breast.

It’s usually given after surgery (known as adjuvant treatment) and following chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy.

Sometimes letrozole is prescribed for primary breast cancer to reduce the size of the cancer before surgery (known as neo-adjuvant endocrine therapy). Before treatment starts, a small metal clip (or marker) may be placed in the area of the breast where the cancer is. This is because in some people the cancer may become difficult to see on a mammogram or ultrasound if it reduces in size, so the marker helps the surgeon find the area again before surgery.

Letrozole may also be prescribed if surgery is not an option for you, for example, if you are not able to have surgery due to other medical conditions. The treatment will not get rid of the breast cancer but can slow its growth and in some people may shrink it.

It can be used to treat breast cancer that comes back in the chest/breast area (known as local recurrence) or surrounding area (known as locally advanced or regional recurrence). It can also be prescribed if you are diagnosed with secondary breast cancer.

Letrozole is not used on its own as a hormone treatment in pre-menopausal women because it’s not an effective treatment while the ovaries are still making oestrogen. But it’s sometimes given alongside another drug, called goserelin, which stops the ovaries from working.

If there’s any doubt about whether you have gone through the menopause your specialist may recommend a blood test to check this before your hormone therapy is prescribed.

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