Skip to main content

Is Eligard a chemotherapy drug?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on Dec 6, 2022.

Official answer


Eligard (leuprolide acetate) is not a chemotherapy drug. It is a prescription hormone medicine used in the palliative treatment of advanced prostate cancer. Palliative treatment is used to relieve pain or other symptoms. Eligard works by reducing the amount of testosterone in your blood. Testosterone is an androgen hormone that can stimulate prostate cancer growth. Eligard is not a cure for advanced prostate cancer.

Eligard is classified as a gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist. It is given as an injectable depot suspension under your skin (subcutaneously) that delivers the medicine slowly over a period of time.

You will receive this injection in your doctor’s office, in a clinic or in the hospital. Eligard is injected either once a month, or once every 3, 4 or 6 months based on the dose you need. You and your doctor will determine the best dose. You may feel a small bump under your skin after you receive the injection, but this will diminish over time.

Testosterone levels should be suppressed in 3 to 4 weeks after your injection. Your doctor will monitor your testosterone and prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels in your blood to see how well the product is working.

What are the bad side effects with Eligard?

It is not uncommon for side effects to occur with hormone therapy treatment for prostate cancer. Injection site reactions, hot flashes, fatigue (extreme tiredness), testicular atrophy (shrinking), muscle aches, weakness, gynecomastia (enlargement of breast tissue) and dizziness are some of the more common reactions with Eligard.

Injection site reactions are generally short-lived with Eligard. In studies, no patients stopped treatment due to injection site side effects, which may include:

  • transient burning and stinging
  • bruising
  • pain
  • redness

Transient burning and stinging was the most common injection site reaction and occurred in about 16% to 35% of patients in studies.

Do not use Eligard if you are allergic to it, any of its ingredients, or other GnRH agonist analogs. Severe and possibly life-threatening reactions called anaphylaxis have occurred in people receiving Eligard.

An increased risk of heart attacks, stroke, an irregular heartbeat and sudden death have been reported in men receiving GnRH agonists, but the risk appears low. Your doctor will monitor you for heart conditions.

A tumor flare, which is an increase in symptoms of prostate cancer can occur during the first few weeks of Eligard treatment. These symptoms may include bone pain, urinary symptoms, or nerve problems such as numbness.

Other side effects, some of which can be serious, can include:

  • elevated blood sugar levels and an increased risk of developing diabetes
  • increased risk for seizures
  • decreased bone density
  • pituitary gland bleeding (rare)
  • impaired fertility in males of reproductive potential.

This is not a complete listing of side effects, warnings, or other information you need for safe and effective use of Eligard. Review the full Eligard information here, and discuss this and any questions you have with your doctor or other health care provider.


Related medical questions

Drug information

Related support groups