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Side Effects of Lupron Injections for Prostate Cancer

By Marcia Frost ; Updated July 27, 2017

Lupron is an injectable hormone therapy used to treat prostate cancer. When the drug is administered regularly, it acts with the pituitary gland to stop the production of the leutinizing hormone that stimulates testicles to continue to release testosterone. It dramatically drops the levels of testosterone in men to castration levels. While the lack of testosterone can have a positive effect on stopping prostate cancer, Lupron injections can have some unpleasant side effects.

Initial Symptoms

After Lupron injection, patients will often experience redness, swelling, burning or itching at the injection site. This should not last more than a few days. As Lupron works by altering hormone levels in the body, it can produce a number of immediate symptoms. The most common of these is hot flashes, similar to those experienced by menopausal women. Bone pain and difficulty urinating are also often experienced at the beginning of Lupron treatment. Breast pain and swelling is also possible.

Sexual Side Effects

Since Lupron is a hormonal therapy that decreases testosterone, it can have a dramatic effect on a man's sexuality. The testes can decrease in size. Many men will also experience a decreased libido, or lack of sexual desire. Without proper levels of testosterone within the body, impotence is a possible side effect of Lupron treatment.

Other Problems

Side effects from Lupron injections that are not as common include gastrointestinal symptoms like constipation, nausea or vomiting. Headaches and insomnia have also been reported. Urinary frequency and infections as well as swelling of the hands and feet are possible but not common. In some patients changes in mood and even depression has followed Lupron injections. These symptoms should be reported to a physician.

Life-Threatening Reactions

While rare, certain life-threatening reactions have been experienced during Lupron therapy for prostate cancer. They include changes in blood pressure and heart rhythms. Congestive heart failure and blood clots have been reported by a small number of Lupron patients and may or may not be directly linked to the drug. Allergic reactions are also possible with any medication. Anyone taking Lupron and experiencing any severe reactions should seek immediate medical help.

Prevention

It is possible to ease some of the side effects of Lupron injections for prostate cancer. Be sure the prescribing physician is aware of any other medications (over-the-counter and prescription) taken. Aspirin products can increase the risk of side effects. It is also a good idea to avoid exposure to the sun and wear sunblock when taking Lupron. Avoiding alcohol and eating properly can help with some of the side effects, as can getting adequate rest.

Considerations

Not everyone undergoing Lupron injections for prostate cancer will have side effects. Many of the symptoms produced by the drug will lessen over time and may disappear completely when therapy has stopped. It is also possible to adjust the dose and frequency of injections to help ease problems. Lupron has been proven to be effective in treating the cancer. The benefits and risks of Lupron injections should be weighed by doctor and patient.

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