Flutamide - an anti-androgen for men

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Treatment with flutamide will be started by a specialist doctor.

The usual dose is one tablet three times daily.

Remember to keep your regular appointments with your doctor and clinic so that your progress can be monitored.
Type of medicineAn anti-androgen
Used forProstate cancer
Available asTablets

Flutamide belongs to a group of medicines known as anti-androgens. This means that it blocks the actions of male sex hormones called androgens. It also reduces the amount of male hormones (such as testosterone) that your body produces.

In prostate cancer, the cancer cells need the male hormone testosterone to grow and multiply well. Hormone treatments like flutamide block the effect of testosterone on prostate cancer cells. This slows down the growth of the cancer. Flutamide also helps to reduce symptom 'flares' and side-effects from other treatments which may be used for the cancer, or following surgery.

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine can only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking flutamide it is important that your doctor knows:

  • If you have any problems with the way your liver works.
  • If you have a heart condition.
  • If you have a rare inherited blood disorder called porphyria.
  • If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines which are available to buy without a prescription, as well as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
  • Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about flutamide and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
  • Take the tablets exactly as your doctor tells you to. Your dose will be printed on the label of the pack of tablets to remind you about what the doctor said to you. It is usual to take one tablet three times a day.
  • You can take flutamide tablets either with or without food. Taking the tablet with a drink of water will help you to swallow it.
  • Try to take the tablets at the same times of day each day. This will help you to remember to take your doses regularly.
  • If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember (unless it is nearly time for your next dose, in which case leave out the missed dose). Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
  • Please keep your regular appointments with your doctor so that your progress can be monitored. Your doctor will want you to have some blood tests from time to time to check that your liver is staying healthy.
  • Your doctor will recommend that you do not drink much alcohol while you are on flutamide.
  • Treatment with flutamide is often long-term. You should continue to take the tablets regularly unless you are told otherwise by your doctor.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with flutamide. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Very common flutamide side-effects (these affect more than 1 in 10 men)What can I do if I experience this?
Breast swelling or tenderness (possibly with a discharge)If this becomes troublesome, speak with your doctor
Common flutamide side-effects (these affect less than 1 in 10 men)
What can I do if I experience this?
Feeling or being sick, diarrhoeaEat simple meals - avoid fatty or spicy foods
Tiredness, difficulty sleeping, increased appetiteIf any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor
Liver problems (for the symptoms please see below)Contact your doctor straightaway

Important: if you notice any of the following you should contact your doctor straightaway as it could be a sign of a problem with your liver:

  • Itchy skin.
  • Urine which is a darker colour than normal.
  • Pain in your tummy (abdomen).
  • Any yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes (jaundice).
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Any unexplained flu-like symptoms.

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the tablets, please speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with your prescribed medicines.

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine, ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

  • British National Formulary; 71st Edition (Mar-Sep 2016) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr John Cox
Document ID:
3652 (v24)
Last Checked:
12/05/2016
Next Review:
12/05/2019
The Information Standard - certified member

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