What is Lupron Depot® (leuprolide acetate)?

Lupron Depot is a type of hormone therapy that is classified as a luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) agonist. Lupron Depot is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat endometriosis, fibroids, central precocious puberty, and prostate cancer,1 and it may be used “off-label” (when a drug is prescribed for a use other than what it was approved for) to treat breast cancer that is hormone receptor-positive (HR+) in premenopausal women.2

What is the ingredient in Lupron Depot?

The active ingredient in Lupron Depot is leuprolide acetate, which is classified as an LHRH agonist.

How does Lupron Depot work?

Many breast cancers are characterized as hormone receptor-positive. That is, the cancer cells have receptors on their surface for hormones, such as estrogen. When hormones bind with these receptors, they can fuel the growth of the cancer cells and lead to them growing and spreading.

The pituitary gland secretes gonadotropin, which stimulates the production of estrogen by the ovaries. LHRH agonists like Lupron Depot work by suppressing gonadotropin from being released by the pituitary gland, and this action reduces the amount of estrogen in the body, which in turn interferes with the growth of the breast cancer cells.2

What are some of the possible side effects of Lupron Depot?

The most common side effects experienced by patients receiving Lupron Depot include2-4:

  • Hot flashes
  • Headache
  • Decreased sex drive (libido)
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle, back, or joint pain
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling in the feet or ankles (peripheral edema)
  • Weight gain
  • Irritation at the injection site
  • Weakening of the bones (osteoporosis)

Lupron Depot may cause a temporary increase in estrogen levels, which can result in a tumor flare or worsening of symptoms.4

Less commonly, Lupron Depot may cause serious side effects, such as4:

  • Increase in blood sugar
  • Increased risk of heart problems, heart attack, or stroke
  • Increased risk of seizures
  • Liver problems

Lupron Depot affects the reproductive system and should cause menstruation to stop in women. If periods continue, women should report this to their doctor.4

These are not the only side effects that Lupron Depot may cause. Patients should talk to their doctor about any side effects that are concerning or that do not go away.

Things to know about Lupron Depot

Lupron Depot should not be used in women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, as it can cause harm to an unborn child. Women who can become pregnant should use non-hormonal forms of birth control while receiving Lupron Depot.1,3 Patients should discuss effective contraception methods with their doctor.

Lupron Depot should not be used in women who are breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed.1,3

Some serious allergic reactions have occurred with Lupron Depot. People with a known allergy to Lupron Depot should not receive this medication.1,3

Before starting treatment with Lupron Depot, patients’ general health should be evaluated, particularly the risk of cardiovascular disease.2

Patients on Lupron Depot should be regularly screened for diabetes.2

Before starting treatment with Lupron Depot, patients should talk to their doctor about all medications (prescription and over-the-counter), vitamins, and herbal supplements they are taking. Some medications or supplements may interfere with each other and may cause side effects.

Dosing information

To treat breast cancer in premenopausal women, Lupron Depot may be given as a 3.75 mg injection into the muscle (intramuscular) every 28 days or as an 11.25 mg injection every 3 months. The injection sites should be rotated frequently, and the duration of treatment may last up to 24 months.2

Patients should talk to their doctor if they have any questions, or if they have questions regarding their Lupron Depot regimen.

For more information, read the full prescribing information for Lupron Depot.

View References
  1. Lupron Depot product website. Available at http://www.lupron.com/index.aspx. Accessed 10/3/18.
  2. Leuprolide (Rx). Medscape. Available at https://reference.medscape.com/drug/lupron-leuprolide-342221. Accessed 10/3/18.
  3. Lupron Depot prescribing information. Available at https://www.rxabbvie.com/pdf/lupron3month11_25mg.pdf. Accessed 10/3/18.
  4. Leuprolide Acetate. OncoLink. Available at https://www.oncolink.org/cancer-treatment/oncolink-rx/leuprolide-acetate-lupron-r-lupron-depot-r-eligard-r-prostap-r-viadur-r-for-women. Accessed 10/3/18.