What Is Flutamide Used For?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of flutamide in men only to treat specific stages of prostate cancer. Although the drug is not approved for women, it may be used in an off-label fashion to treat excessive hair growth. Flutamide should not be given to someone under the age of 18 unless there is a specific reason why the benefits outweigh the risks.
An Overview of Flutamide UsesFlutamide (Eulexin®) is a prescription medication approved for use in certain types of prostate cancer. It is used in combination with a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist medicine (also known as a luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone [LH-RH] agonist), such as:
- Goserelin acetate implant (Zoladex®)
- Histrelin acetate implant (Vantas®)
- Leuprolide acetate (Eligard®, Lupron®, Lupron Depot®)
- Triptorelin (Trelstar®).
Prostate cancer is cancer that begins in the prostate gland. It is one of the most common types of cancer in men in the United States.
Much of the time, prostate cancer spreads so slowly that it doesn't produce any symptoms or cause any serious health threats. However, in some men, the cancer will grow more rapidly and may spread to other areas of the body, including the bladder, rectum, lymph nodes, or bone. When the cancer has spread, it is called metastatic prostate cancer.
Treatment for prostate cancer varies from man to man. Some men won't be treated at all, while others may be treated with a combination of medications, radiation, or chemotherapy. Surgery is also an option. Ultimately, the type of treatment a man receives will depend on a variety of factors, such as:
- The man's age and overall health
- How far the cancer has spread (the stage of the cancer)
- Individual and family preference.
Stages are used to describe the extent to which the disease has spread. The higher the stage, the more advanced the cancer. Stages of prostate cancer include:
- Stage I, which is cancer that remains local to the prostate tissue.
- Stage II, which is cancer that is more advanced but still remains in the prostate gland. Stage II is further divided into IIA and IIB.
- Stage III, which is cancer that has spread beyond the outer layer of the prostate but not more widely.
- Stage IV prostate cancer is cancer that has spread widely to other areas of the body.
Because there is more than one system used to stage prostate cancer, you may see staging that uses letters instead of roman numerals. The stages are generally equivalent, so, for example, Stage I is similar to Stage A, Stage II is similar to Stage B, Stage III is similar to Stage C, and Stage IV is similar to Stage D.
Flutamide is approved for the management of the following stages of prostate cancer:
- Stage IIB to III (Stages B2 to C)
- Stage IV (Stage D2).
As mentioned, flutamide is used in combination with a GnRH agonist. When used in Stage IIB-III prostate cancer, this combination treatment usually begins eight weeks before radiation therapy and continues during radiation therapy. When used in Stage IV cancer, treatment with flutamide normally begins at the same time as the GnRH agonist and continues until the cancer progresses.