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    Information about Letrozole

    Letrozole uses

    Letrozole is used in the treatment of breast cancer and infertility due to anovulation.

    How letrozole works

    Letrozole is an aromatase inhibitor. It works by decreasing the amount of estrogen (natural female hormone) produced in the body. This decrease in estrogen can slow down or stop the growth of some breast cancers that need estrogen to grow. In addition, it is also useful in infertility whereby it increases the release of certain hormones to stimulate the release of eggs from the ovaries.

    Common side effects of letrozole

    Hot flushes, Increased sweating, Musculoskeletal (bone, muscle or joint) pain, Fatigue, Increased cholesterol level in blood
    Content Details
    Written By
    Dr. Arpit Bhatnagar
    PGDHHM - Hospital and Healthcare Management, BDS
    Reviewed By
    Dr. Shilpa Garcha
    Writing in Medical Sciences, Medical Writing, Advanced PG Diploma in Clinical Research
    Last updated on:
    29 May 2019 | 02:12 PM (IST)
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    Read Our Editorial Policy

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    Expert advice for Letrozole

    • You have been prescribed Letrozole for the treatment of breast cancer or infertility due to anovulation.
    • It can be taken with or without food.
    • Do not drive or do anything requiring concentration until you know how Letrozole affects you.
    • It may cause increased sweating and hot flushes. Try to keep cool by wearing light and airy clothes.
    • Your doctor may monitor your cholesterol level and bone mineral density (BMD) regularly as Letrozole can alter their levels.
    • Do not take Letrozole if you are pregnant or breastfeeding 

    Frequently asked questions for Letrozole


    Q. Why have I been prescribed Letrozole?

    Letrozole is an aromatase inhibitor. It is generally prescribed to treat breast cancer in women who no longer have periods, either due to menopause or after surgery or chemotherapy. It is also used to treat infertility caused due to anovulation (during menstrual cycle egg cell from ovaries is not released).

    Q. How does Letrozole work?

    Letrozole is also known as an anti-estrogen drug. It is called so because it acts by reducing the production of estrogen in your body by blocking the enzyme aromatase, which is responsible for production of estrogen. Estrogen stimulates the production of certain types of breast cancer in your body. These cancers are called "estrogen-dependent cancers". Reducing the production of estrogen may prevent the cancer from growing.

    Q. For how long should I take Letrozole?

    If the breast tumor is in advanced stage or has spread to other parts of the body, it is recommended that you continue taking Letrozole till the tumor shows progression. In cases where Letrozole is given after tamoxifen (another anti-estrogen used for breast cancer) or surgery, it should be given for 5 years or until tumor comes back, whichever is first. It can also be given as a sequential treatment; 2 years of Letrozole followed by 3 years of tamoxifen.

    Q. If I am taking irbesartan to control my blood pressure, can I take Letrozole?

    Yes, you can take irbesartan and Letrozole together. However, be careful and keep a regular check on your blood pressure since Letrozole may increase your blood pressure. Consult your doctor in case you have problems controlling your blood pressure.

    Q. Does Letrozole affect vision?

    Although it is very uncommon but Letrozole may cause cataract. So, if you experience blurred vision or eye irritation, consult your doctor immediately.

    Q. My friend who is taking Letrozole often sweats a lot. Is it because of Letrozole?

    This could be a sign of hot flushes which is a very common side effect of Letrozole. It happens due to decreased estrogen levels. The frequency of hot flushes reduces once your body adjusts to Letrozole. However, in some people the flushes and sweats may continue during the treatment and stop a few months after the treatment finishes. You can consult your doctor who will provide you a remedy if it is very bothersome.

    Q. What are the serious side effects of Letrozole?

    The serious side effects do not occur in everyone and very few people experience them. The serious side effects of Letrozole include stroke, angina, heart attack, blood clotting, cataract, osteoporosis and severe skin reactions.

    Q. Does Letrozole cause bone loss?

    Letrozole may cause thinning or wasting of your bones (osteoporosis), which is due to the decrease in estrogen levels in your body. Your doctor may decide to measure your bone density (a way of monitoring for osteoporosis) before, during and after treatment.

    Content on this page was last updated on 29 May, 2019, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)