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Megestrol (Megace®)   

Warning: Megestrol may cause harm to fetuses and should not be taken if you are pregnant, planning on becoming pregnant, or if you are breastfeeding. If you have a history of blood clots, stroke, or diabetes, you should consult with your physician about your medical history prior to taking this medication.

Indications: Megestrol is a man-made chemical that is very similar to the hormone progesterone, which is naturally produced by females.  Megestrol belongs to a class of drugs that is used to facilitate the treatment of certain types of cancers, but should only be used in conjunction with, and not in place of other cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, surgery, radiation treatment, or other cancer treatments. This medication is often used to help treat endometrial carcinoma (which is cancer of the uterus) and breast cancer, but is also sometimes used as an appetite stimulant for those who have a difficult time maintaining their weight because of AIDS. Some common side effects of this medication include nausea, rash, excess flatulence or gas production, impotency, and hypertension. Some of the less common side effects of this medication include insomnia and headaches. Your symptoms may increase in severity and frequency as your medication dosage is increased.

 

Dosage:  Megestrol is prescribed in various daily doses that may be administered over a period of several months and should be taken only as directed by a physician. This medication can either be taken with food or without food, but you may be able to achieve higher absorption and blood levels if you take this medication without food. If you use the oral suspension form of this medication, you should shake it before using, but don’t stir it. If you are a female who is capable of becoming pregnant, you should take extra precautions and use contraceptives to avoid becoming pregnant while taking this medication. If you do become pregnant while taking this medication, or if you experience any adverse reactions to this medication, you should notify your physician.    

Storage: store Megestrol at room temperature, away from direct sunlight, moisture and heat above 40 ° C. Keep Megestrol out of the reach of children. Do not store Megestrol and all medications in the bathroom. Megestrol and all other medications should not be used beyond the expiration date printed on the container.  

Overdose: Do not take Megestrol more often than prescribed by your doctor. As with any drug, persistent overdose can be dangerous. If you think you have taken an overdose of Megestrol, contact your doctor or a poison control center near you as soon as possible.  

Missing dose: do your best to take Megestrol as indicated by your doctor or pharmacist. In case you forget to take a dose, take the missed one as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, do not double the next dose to recover the missed one; it can be dangerous. Contact your doctor or wait to go back to your regular schedule.  

Interactions: Contact your physician prior to taking this medication if you are currently taking Indinavir or Dofetilide. To avoid any possible drug interactions that you might experience if you take this medication in conjunction with other medications, you should always inform your physician of any medications that you are currently taking before taking Megestrol.

Contraindications: If you are hypersensitive to progestins, Megestrol acetate, or any other components of this medication, you should not take Megestrol. You should always inform your physician of your past medical history as well as any current medications before taking Megestrol or any other medications.

Mechanism of action (MOA): Megestrol is a progesterone; it slows or stops the multiplication of cancer cells in the prostate by inhibiting the production of testosterone in the body. In the treatment of breast or endometrial cancer, Megestrol interferes with other hormones and proteins necessary for the division of the cancer cells.  

Side effects: in certain patients, Megestrol can lead to side effects. Most common Megestrol side include:

  • dizziness
  • mild headache
  • high blood pressure
  • mood swings
  • unreasonable weight gain
  • nervousness
  • flushing
  • gas or bloating
  • decreased sexual desire
  • unexpected vaginal bleeding
  • insomnia (or sleep problems)
  • lack of energy
  • breast tenderness or pain
  • Appearance of brown spots on exposed skin 

If the side effects above persist for weeks, contact your oncologist. In addition, contact your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms:  

  • vision changes
  • anxiety
  • confusion
  • slow speech
  • excessive sweating, mainly at night
  • purple, blue, or black discoloration of the skin
  • extreme hunger
  • clinical depression symptoms
  • leg pain
  • difficulty breathing
  • chest pain or heaviness in chest
  • weakness or numbness of an arm or leg
  • pain or swelling in the abdomen
  • Swelling of face, ankles or feet 
  • fast or irregular heartbeat