Femara is the brand name for the generic medication known as letrozole. Letrozole is an oral medication used primarily in the treatment of breast cancer. It belongs to a class of drugs known as aromatase inhibitors.
Here are some key points about Femara (letrozole):
- Indications: Femara (letrozole) is mainly prescribed to postmenopausal women who have hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. It is used to treat both early-stage breast cancer and advanced-stage breast cancer. The medication helps by reducing the amount of estrogen in the body, as estrogen can promote the growth of hormone receptor-positive breast cancer cells.
- How it works: Letrozole works by inhibiting the enzyme aromatase, which is responsible for the conversion of androgens (hormones produced by the adrenal glands) into estrogen. By reducing estrogen levels, letrozole can slow down or stop the growth of estrogen-sensitive breast cancer cells.
- Dosage: The dosage of Femara (letrozole) can vary depending on the specific type and stage of breast cancer being treated. It is typically taken once a day in the form of oral tablets.
- Duration of Treatment: The duration of treatment with letrozole can vary, but it is often used for an extended period, such as five years, to help prevent breast cancer recurrence in postmenopausal women.
- Side Effects: Common side effects of letrozole may include hot flashes, joint and muscle pain, fatigue, and bone thinning (osteoporosis). Long-term use of letrozole can lead to an increased risk of osteoporosis, so bone health should be closely monitored during treatment.
- Contraindications: Letrozole is typically not prescribed for premenopausal women, as it is designed for postmenopausal individuals due to the way it works to reduce estrogen levels.
- Precautions: Patients taking Femara should have regular follow-up appointments with their healthcare provider for monitoring of side effects and the effectiveness of the treatment.
- Fertility: In some cases, letrozole may also be used off-label to induce ovulation in women who are struggling with infertility, particularly when the infertility is related to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
It’s important to remember that Femara (letrozole) should only be used under the guidance of a qualified oncologist or healthcare professional, and it is specifically intended for the treatment of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. If you or someone you know is prescribed this medication, it’s essential to follow the healthcare provider’s recommendations closely and discuss any concerns or potential side effects with them.