A healthcare provider may prescribe Lupron to help relieve the symptoms of advanced prostate cancer in men or to treat central precocious puberty in children. This medicine works by decreasing testosterone levels in men and preventing the production of sex hormones in children. Possible off-label uses of Lupron may include treating symptoms of endometriosis, breast cancer, and uterine fibroids.
Lupron® (leuprolide acetate) is a prescription medication approved to relieve symptoms of advanced prostate cancer and to treat a condition known as central precocious (too early) puberty in children. Lupron must be given by injection; the medication is not active if taken by mouth.
Lupron is approved for the palliative treatment of advanced prostate cancer. Palliative cancer treatment eases the symptoms of cancer, but does not make the cancer go away. Lupron can help reduce symptoms, such as pain and problems with urination, which are often caused by prostate cancer. However, it does not cure prostate cancer.
Central precocious puberty (or simply precocious puberty) is a condition in which puberty occurs too early. Puberty is when the body changes from a child into an adult. Precocious puberty is usually defined as puberty that starts before age 8 in girls or age 9 in boys.
Children with precocious puberty undergo physical changes of puberty at an early age. These physical changes may include:
- Breast growth and menstruation in girls
- Voice changes and enlarged testicles and penis in boys
- Hair growth (pubic, underarm, and facial hair)
- Growth spurt.
Precocious puberty can lead to psychological problems in children. Children with this condition may feel self-conscious about the changes that are occurring in their bodies because their peers are not experiencing the same body changes. Precocious puberty causes earlier physical, but not emotional, changes in children. Children may be expected to act older than they are because they look older. This can be stressful and confusing for the child.
If left untreated, children with precocious puberty may not reach their full height potential as adults. This is because their bones grow and mature too quickly, and then they stop growing earlier than normal. Therefore, children may be taller than their peers early on, but have less time for later growth into adulthood.
There are two main types of precocious puberty: central and peripheral precocious puberty. Peripheral precocious puberty is caused by the release of testosterone or estrogen into the body, which triggers changes associated with puberty. It may be due to problems with the testicles, ovaries, or certain glands in the body (the pituitary or adrenal gland).
In central precocious puberty, puberty is triggered earlier than usual, but undergoes a normal pattern. In most cases, the cause of central precocious puberty is unknown. In fact, it is likely that there is no underlying medical problem at all.
The goal of treatment is to temporarily stop the early puberty and prevent further changes in the body until the appropriate time. Lupron can help reduce the amount of testosterone (in boys) and estrogen (in girls) made by the body, which can delay puberty and slow down early bone growth.
Lupron should only be used in children who have a confirmed diagnosis of central precocious puberty. Your child's healthcare provider will do a variety of tests before diagnosing your child.