Patient Education Quick Reference Guide Diablo Valley Oncology/Hematology Medical Group Phone Number: 925-677-5041Uses For This Medication
- Megestrol acetate is used to treat adults with breast cancer and endometrial cancer.
- Megestrol acetate is also used to help increase appetite in patients who have lost weight from cancer or patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
- Megestrol acetate may be used to control hot flashes which can occur in men who are receiving hormone therapy for the treatment of prostate cancer.
- Megestrol acetate may also be used to treat adults with advanced prostate cancer.
- This medication may also be given for other conditions as determined by your doctor.
How This Medication WorksMegestrol acetate is a synthetic (man-made) version of a naturally occurring hormone called progesterone. It is not known exactly how megestrol acetate works, however it is thought that it may work by attaching to cells and then preventing other hormones from attaching there. When this happens, the cancer cells which need hormones to grow, will not be able to grow. Benefits of This Medication In patients with breast cancer or endometrial cancer, megestrol acetate may slow down the growth of the tumor, or cancer. In addition, megestrol acetate can help to decrease the side effect of hot flashes that can occur in men who are receiving hormone therapy for the treatment of prostate cancer. Finally, megestrol acetate can help to increase appetite in patients who have lost weight from cancer or other diseases.
Who Should Not Take This MedicationYou should not take this medication if you:
- Are allergic to megestrol acetate or to any of its components
Blood related precautionsThis medication can cause high blood sugar levels or worsen the blood sugar levels of patients with diabetes. Your doctor or healthcare provider will check your blood regularly while you are on this medication to monitor for this possible problem. If you notice symptoms such as increased thirst, increased hunger, or increased urination, make sure that you tell your doctor or healthcare provider right away. In addition, if you are diabetic, the dose of your diabetes medications may need to be changed. Be sure to check with your doctor or healthcare provider.
- Rarely, blood clots have been reported in patients receiving megestrol acetate. If you have ever had a blood clot, you should let your doctor or healthcare provider know. Contact your doctor or healthcare provider immediately if you experience pain or swelling in your leg(s) or if you experience sudden shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, sharp chest pain, sudden and severe headache, or pain that radiates down the shoulder and arm.
- If you have been taking megestrol acetate for a long period of time, do not stop this medication suddenly. Doing so can cause a decrease in the natural steroid hormones that your body makes. This is called adrenocortical insufficiency. Symptoms of this condition are nausea, loss of appetite, tiredness, dizziness, difficulty breathing, joint pain, muscle pain, depression, low blood sugar, and low blood pressure. Your doctor or healthcare provider will monitor you carefully while you are receiving megestrol acetate and if you are planning on stopping megestrol acetate to make sure that you do not develop this problem.
- This medication can cause a condition known as tumor flare during the first few weeks of treatment, especially in patients who have breast cancer which has metastasized, or spread, to the bone. Tumor flare is a syndrome which causes muscle pain and redness along with increased size of tumors. The size of these tumors will later decrease once this syndrome has subsided. Let your doctor or healthcare provider know if you are experiencing muscle pain and redness that do not get better.
Patient specific precautions
- It is not known if this medication is safe and effective in children.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding precautions
- This medication may cause fetal harm. When taking this medication, you should use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy. Tell your doctor or healthcare provider right away if you or your spouse/partner becomes pregnant.
- It is not known whether this medication is found or excreted in breast milk. Since many medications are excreted in breast milk and because this medication can cause serious harmful reactions in infants, breastfeeding should be avoided.
- Many anti-cancer therapies can cause sterility. Notify your doctor or healthcare provider if you want to have children in the future.
Medication and Food InteractionsBefore using this medication, tell your doctor or healthcare provider of all prescription or over-the- counter products you are taking, including dietary supplements or vitamins, herbal medicines and homeopathic remedies. Do not start or stop any medication without your doctor or healthcare provider’s approval. Possible interactions can occur with megestrol acetate and the following foods or medications:
- Amiodarone (Cordarone®)
- Aprepitant (Emend®)
- Atazanavir (Reyataz®)
- Bexarotene (Targretin®)
- Clarithromycin (Biaxin®)
- Dofetilide (Tikosyn®)
- Entecavir (Baraclude®)
- Fluconazole (Diflucan®)
- Grapefruit or grapefruit juice
- Imatinib mesylate (Gleevec®)
- Indinavir (Crixivan®)
- Itraconazole (Sporanox®)
- Ketoconazole (Nizoral®)
- Medications used to treat diabetes
- Nefazodone (Serzone®)
- Nelfinavir (Viracept®)
- Phenytoin (Dilantin®)
- Rifampin (Rifadin®)
- Rifabutin (Mycobutin®)
- Ritonavir (Norvir®)
- St.John’s wort
- Voriconazole (Vfend®)
- Warfarin (Coumadin)
- All medications can cause side effects. However, not all patients will experience these side effects. In addition, other side effects not listed can also occur in some patients. You should call your doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns while you are on this medication.
- You should contact your doctor or healthcare provider if you experience any side effect(s) which don’t go away, worsen, are serious in nature, or are worrisome to you.
- Side effects can occur when megestrol acetate is given alone or together with other chemotherapy medications. The side effects listed below are those reported in patients who were treated with megestrol acetate alone
More common side effects
- Weight gain, increased appetite
- Swelling in the legs and/or ankles
Rare side effectsThis is not a complete list of the rare side effects reported with megestrol acetate. For a complete list, please talk with your doctor or healthcare provider about reviewing a copy of the package insert.
- Blood clots in the veins or lungs (see Precautions To Be Aware Of Before Taking This Medication)
- Heart failure, irregular heart rate
- Nausea, vomiting
- Breakthrough menstrual bleeding
- Increased bone and/or tumor pain shortly after starting treatment (see Precautions To Be Aware Of Before Taking This Medication)
- Increase in calcium blood level
- High blood sugar levels (see Precautions To Be Aware Of Before Taking This Medication)
- Hair thinning or loss
- Liver problems
- High blood pressure
- Hot flashes
- Swelling of hands and feet
- Shortness of breath, cough, sore throat
- Urinary incontinence, urinary tract infection
- Abnormal thinking, confusion., seizures, depression
How To Take This Medication
- This medication is taken by mouth (orally) with or without food. Take this medication exactly as directed by your doctor or healthcare provider. If you do not understand these instructions, ask your doctor or healthcare provider to explain them to you.
- It is important that you only use this medication when it’s been prescribed for you. Sharing this medication with someone for whom it is not prescribed could cause harm.
- If you accidentally take too many pills or an excessive amount of the oral liquid or someone else accidentally takes your medication, contact your doctor, your local poison control center at 1-800-222- 1222, or emergency services immediately.
- Store this medication (both tablet and liquid form) at room temperature.
- Keep this medication out of the reach of children or pets.
- Ask your doctor or healthcare provider how to dispose of any medication that you no longer use.