Letrozole (Generic Name)
Other Names: Femara
About this drug
Letrozole is used to treat cancer. This drug is given orally.
Possible side effects (More Common)
- Hot flashes
- Muscle weakness
- Back pain
- Bone pain
- An increase in your cholesterol levels
- Difficulty catching your breath
- Night sweats
Possible side effects (Less Common)
- Increased blood pressure
- Difficulty sleeping
- Breast pain
- Muscle or joint pain
- Hair loss is usually complete scalp hair loss and can include loss of eyebrows, eyelashes, and pubic hair. You may notice this a few days or weeks after treatment has begun.
Usually hair loss is temporary; your hair should grow back when treatment is completed. Hair thinning is temporary. Your hair should grow back when treatment is completed.
- Swelling of ankles
- Blood clots (rare). A blood clot in your leg may cause your leg to swell, appear red, and feel warm, and/or cause pain. A blood clot in your lungs may cause shortness of breath, pain when breathing, and/or chest pain.
Sexual Problems and Reproductive Concerns
- In men and women both, this drug may temporarily or permanently affect your ability to have children. This cannot be determined before your therapy. In men, this drug may interfere with your ability to make sperm, but it should not change your ability to have sexual relations. In women, menstrual bleeding may become irregular or stop while you are receiving this drug. Do not assume that you cannot become pregnant if you do not have a menstrual period. Women may experience signs of menopause like vaginal dryness or itching.
- Pregnancy warning: This drug may have harmful effects on the unborn child, so effective methods of birth control should be used during your cancer treatment.
- Speak with your doctor or nurse if you plan to have children. Ask for information on sperm or egg banking.
- Genetic counseling is available to you to discuss the effects of this drug therapy on future pregnancies. In addition, a genetic counselor can review the potential risks of problems in the fetus due to this medication if an exposure during pregnancy has occurred.
- Breast feeding warning: Women are advised not to breast feed during treatment because this drug could enter the breast milk and seriously harm a breast feeding infant.
- Vaginal lubricants can be used to lessen vaginal dryness, itching, and pain during sexual relations.
Treating side effects
- Ask your doctor or nurse about medication that is available to help prevent or lessen nausea and vomiting.
- Do not put anything on your rash unless your doctor or nurse says you may. Keep the area around the rash clean and dry.
- Let your doctor know if you experience any difficulty sleeping.
- Speak with your nurse about obtaining a wig before you lose your hair. Also, call the American Cancer Society at 800-ACS-2345 to find out information about the “Look Good...Feel Better” program close to where you live. It is a free program where women undergoing chemotherapy learn about wigs, turbans and scarves as well as makeup techniques and skin and nail care.
- Drink 6-8 cups of fluids every day unless your doctor has told you to restrict your fluid intake due to another medical condition. A cup is 8 ounces of fluid. If you vomit or have diarrhea, you should drink more fluids so that you do not become dehydrated.
Food and drug interactions
There are no known interactions of Letrozole with food. This drug may interact with other medication. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the medication and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs and others) that you are currently taking. The safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements and alternative diets are often unknown. Using these might unexpectedly affect your cancer or interfere with your treatment. Until more is known, you should not use dietary supplements or alternative diets without your cancer doctor's advice.
- You may need to have your bone density levels and cholesterol levels monitored. Discuss this with your doctor.
- This medication should be stored are room temperature.
When to call the doctor
Call your doctor or nurse immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Uncontrolled nausea that prevents you from eating or drinking
- Vomiting more than three times in one day
- Chest pain
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat (palpitations)
- Cramping or pain in legs; swelling or redness; and warmth of leg
- Coughing up blood
Notify your doctor or nurse as soon as possible if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Diarrhea of 5 or 6 stools in 1 day
- Diarrhea with weakness or lightheadedness
- Nausea unrelieved by prescribed medication
- Pain in your back or arms that is unrelieved by prescribed medication
- Headache unrelieved by prescribed medication
- Weight gain of 5 pounds or more in 1 week
- Muscle weakness that interferes with normal activities
- Abdominal pain
- Persistent loss of appetite or loss of 5 pounds or more in 1 week
- Extreme tiredness that interferes with normal activities
- Rash that is bothersome
Revised November 2011