Flutamide

Brand names of flutamide

  • Apo-Flutamide
  • Euflex
  • Eulexin
  • Flutamex
  • Novo-Flutamide
  • PMS-Flutamide

Flutamide is a prescription drug taken orally for treating prostate cancer along with other anti-cancer medications. It is a non-steroidal anti-androgen and works in the body to thwart the actions of androgen (male hormones). In fact, this medicine impedes the actions of androgen in the prostate, thereby preventing the growth of tumor and also allowing it to shrink.

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Within the body, flutamide contends against testosterone (a potent steroid hormone secreted from the testes) as well as potent metabolite (product of metabolism) dihydrotestosterone (DHT) with the aim to attach with the androgen receptors present in the prostate glands. This action of flutamide stops testosterone as well as DHT from fueling the growth of the prostate cancer cells. In recent times, a member of the class of flutamide, called bicalutamide has proved to be a more useful substitute of this anti-prostate cancer drug primarily owing to the fact that bicalutamide has fewer side effects.

It may be noted that in addition to using it to treat prostate cancer in men, flutamide may also be prescribed for women having high levels of androgen.

As aforementioned, flutamide is generally used concurrently with other medications, including a luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone agonist (LHRH) - a sort of hormonal injection like leuprolide (Lupron, Eligard), triptorelin (Trelstar) or goserelin (Zoladex), to cure specific kinds of prostate cancer. Inside the body, flutamide works to wedge the consequences of androgen to prevent the cancer cells from growing as well as spreading to new areas.

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Like in the case of any other prescription medication, before you start taking flutamide it is essential for you to tell your physician whether you have any allergic reactions to this drug, any of its constituents or any other medicines. In addition, you must also tell your physician about all the prescription, over-the-counter or herbal medications that you may be using to treat other health conditions. It is also important to tell your physician if you are taking or intend to take any nutritional supplements, vitamins or minerals. It is especially important to inform your doctor if you are taking any anti-coagulants (blood thinners), for instance warfarin (Coumadin). Also tell your physician about all your medical conditions and medical history before you start taking flutamide. Also inform your physician if you have ever endured any hereditary blood disease, for instance hemoglobin M disease or glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G-6-PD) deficiency. In addition, before beginning to take flutamide, it is also essential to tell your doctor if you are a smoker.

It is very important to remember that flutamide should only be prescribed for men. In fact, if this medicine is taken by any woman during pregnancy, it has the potency to harm the fetus. Although flutamide is sometimes prescribed to treat excessive levels of androgen in women, no pregnant women should ever take this prescription drug. In case any woman has taken this medication during pregnancy, she should immediately seek medical help.

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People taking flutamide to treat prostate cancer should exercise certain precautions. For instance, it is not advisable to take alcoholic beverages while you are taking this prescription medicine. This is primarily owing to the fact that taking flutamide regularly may result in side effects, such as flushing of the face, and consumption of alcoholic beverages will not only worsen the condition of the patient, but also the side effects. In case you are addicted to alcohol, consult your physician regarding the amount of alcohol that is safe for you to drink while taking flutamide.

As in the case of most other prescription drugs, taking flutamide regularly also results in a number of adverse after-effects. The worst side effect caused by flutamide is damaging the liver of the patients and at times this side effect may prove to be life-threatening. Therefore, before you start taking this medicine, it is important to inform your physician if you have or ever suffered from any type of liver ailment. Taking flutamide may result in side effects like vomiting, nausea, extreme exhaustion, loss of appetite, throbbing muscles, symptoms akin to having a flu, tenderness and pain in the higher right region of the stomach, passing dark urine and/or the skin or eyes turning yellow as in jaundice. In case you are taking flutamide and experience any of the symptoms discussed here, get immediate medical help.

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Since flutamide has the potential to cause several acute side effects, it is advisable that if you are taking this medication, you ought to have regular checkups, maintain all your appointments with your physician and also the laboratory - because you will need to undergo frequent examinations. In fact, before you start taking flutamide, your physician will ask you to undertake specific blood examinations to be familiar with the condition of your liver prior to taking this medicine. Moreover, when your treatment with flutamide begins, you will be required to have blood tests at regular intervals of four months and this would continue as long as you would be taking flutamide to treat prostate cancer.

Finally, before you start treatment with flutamide, talk to your physician in detail regarding the risks associated with taking this prescription drug.

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Usage

The prescription drug flutamide, a non-steroidal anti-androgen, is used concurrently with other medications and at times together with radiation therapies. As aforementioned, flutamide belongs to the class of drugs called anti-androgens or anti-testosterone. Testosterone is a natural hormone produced in the testes of males, but unfortunately, it is also responsible for the development of and spread of prostate cancer cells. Inside the body, flutamide works to block the consequences of testosterone and, hence, facilitates inhibiting the development as well as spread of prostate cancer.

How to use flutamide

Before you use flutamide, it is essential to thoroughly read the Patient Information Leaflet that is made available by your pharmacist whenever you buy this medicine or obtain a refill. In case you have any additional queries regarding the dosage and how to use flutamide, it is best to consult your physician or pharmacist. The dosage of flutamide depends on the medical condition of the patient and how well he is responding to the treatment. However, the usual dosage of flutamide is one tablet of the medicine taken thrice every day orally with or without food. Alternately, you ought to use flutamide as per your doctor's prescription. If you want to obtain the utmost results from taking flutamide, it is essential to use flutamide regularly and without any interruption. Taking the medicine at the same time every day will not only give you the utmost benefit, but also help you remember when to take it regularly. It is not advisable to stop taking flutamide without consulting your physician, since if you stop taking this medicine abruptly, it is likely to facilitate the spread of prostate cancer more speedily. In case your symptoms, such as difficulty in passing urine or increase in bone pain, of the disease continue or worsen even after taking this medication it is essential to inform your physician and seek fresh advice.

How flutamide works

Before we discuss how flutamide works, it is essential to know that the activity of testosterone (the hormone produced by male testes) is responsible for the development as well as spread of a few types of prostate tumors. Taking flutamide actually helps to impede the actions of testosterone, which inhibits or stops the growth and spread of the prostate cancer cells.

Side effects

Serious
  • extreme dizziness or fainting
  • itching
  • nausea or vomiting
  • shortness of breath
  • yellow discoloration of the skin or eyes (jaundice)
  • bluish coloring of lips, fingernails, or palms of hands (a sign of inadequate blood and oxygen supply to body tissues), dark urine
  • feeling of extreme pressure in the head
  • loss of appetite
  • pain in the right flank
  • weak and rapid heartbeat
Common
Less common
  • loss of appetite
  • swollen and tender breasts
  • tingling or numbness of hands or feet
  • swelling of feet or lower legs

Possible interactions

Like taking any other prescription drug, usage of flutamide too needs to be done cautiously. In fact, flutamide is known to interact with certain medications, nutritional supplements and vitamins. Hence, they should not be taken concurrently. Below is a brief discussion on how flutamide interacts with other medications, minerals and situations.

Other medicaments
It is not advisable to take flutamide when you are taking any vaccination for influenza, yellow fever or pneumonia as it may diminish the effect of the vaccines. In fact, this prescription drug for treating prostate cancer dulls the immunization effect of these vaccines. In addition, taking blood thinners or anti-coagulant medications like warfarin (Coumadin and similar ones) concurrently may result in augmented hemorrhages. In fact, it is wise to have INRs more often when taking flutamide.
Herbal medicines or minerals
Flutamide is also known to interact with certain herbal medications. For instance, taking flutamide and St. John's wort may result in enhanced susceptibility to the sun and, hence, it is never advisable. Although there is no scientific proof that using the herbal medication Echinacea and flutamide concurrently is harmful, but it is not advisable either.
Marijuana smoking
Clinical studies on animals have proved that smoking marijuana while one is taking the prescription drug flutamide to treat prostate cancer may cause further weakening of the immune system. Hence, it is advised that this combination should be avoided at all cost.
Exposure to sun
Men taking flutamide to treat prostate cancer may experience some degree of photosensitivity or be susceptible to exposure to sunlight. It is better when they are not in direct sunlight for long and use protective measures like sunglasses and sun lotions.

Discontinuation

People taking flutamide for prostate cancer treatment should not stop taking the medicine without consulting their physician. In addition, it is advisable not to start or stop taking any other medication without informing your doctor.

Storage instructions

It is important to keep flutamide in a safe and secured place. Always keep this prescription drug in the container that came with the medicine. Keep the container tightly sealed and always beyond the reach of children and pets. Always store the medicine at room temperature and do not allow it to be exposed to too much heat or humidity. Never keep the medicine in your bathroom. In addition, do not keep any medication that has lapsed its expiry date or is not required anymore. If you are still unclear regarding the storage and disposal of the medication, consult your pharmacist to learn more.

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