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Is Faslodex a form of chemotherapy?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on June 26, 2020.

Official Answer

by Drugs.com

Key Points

  • Faslodex (generic name: fulvestrant) is not considered a form of chemotherapy, although it is used in the treatment of breast cancer.
  • Chemotherapy ("chemo") is oral or injectable drugs that are used to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy can help prevent a cancer recurrence, limit spreading of cancer in the body, or kill cancer cells that have already spread. Chemotherapy is often given in cycles, with rest periods, over several months.
  • Faslodex is classified as a hormonal therapy (sometimes called endocrine therapy). Certain types of breast cancer have estrogen receptors and use estrogen to grow and multiply in the body. Faslodex is an anti-estrogen medication (estrogen receptor antagonist) and competes with natural estrogen in the body. It blocks estrogen receptors (ER) to help slow the cancer from growing or spreading.

How is Faslodex given?

Faslodex is given as a slow, intramuscular (into the muscle) injection into the buttocks (gluteal area). After the first month of treatment you’ll only need to receive it once per month. It is given as two 5 milliliter (mL) injections, one in each buttock, on days 1, 15, 29 in the first month, and then once monthly thereafter. You may need a lower dose if you have liver disease.

Faslodex may cause nerve damage related to the injection. Call your doctor if you develop any of the following symptoms in your legs following injection: numbness, tingling, or weakness.

When did the FDA approve Faslodex?

The FDA first approved Faslodex, from AstraZeneca, in April of 2002. Faslodex can be used alone (monotherapy) or in combination with other medications for the treatment of advanced or metastatic breast cancer.

Faslodex monotherapy is used to treat:

  • hormone-receptor (HR)-positive advanced breast cancer in postmenopausal women with disease progression following endocrine therapy.
  • HR-positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative advanced breast cancer in postmenopausal women not previously treated with endocrine therapy.

Faslodex combination therapy is used to treat:

  • HR-positive, HER2-negative advanced or metastatic breast cancer, in combination with ribociclib (brand name: Kisqali) in postmenopausal women as initial endocrine-based therapy or following disease progression on endocrine therapy.
  • HR-positive, HER2-negative advanced or metastatic breast cancer, in combination with palbociclib (brand name: Ibrance) or abemaciclib (brand name: Verzenio) in women with disease progression following endocrine therapy.

Other common FDA-approved hormonal therapies used to treat breast cancer include:

  • Arimidex (anastrozole)
  • Aromasin (exemestane)
  • Femara (letrozole)
  • Fareston (toremifene)
  • Megestrol
  • Soltamox (tamoxifen)

Besides endocrine (anti-estrogen) therapy and chemotherapy, other types of treatment for breast cancer include surgery, radiation therapy and targeted drug therapy.

Bottom Line

  • Faslodex (fulvestrant) is not considered a form of chemotherapy, but is used as a hormonal therapy to block estrogen receptors in the body that may fuel breast cancer.
  • Faslodex is used alone or in combination with other medications for the treatment of breast cancer in women.
  • Hormone therapy may be prescribed after surgery to prevent the breast cancer from reoccurring, before surgery to help shrink the tumor size, or if the cancer returns later.

This is not all the information you need to know about Faslodex for safe and effective use. Review the full Faslodex product information here, and discuss this information with your doctor or other health care provider.

References
  • Lynn J. Fulvestrant ('Faslodex')--a new hormonal treatment for advanced breast cancer. Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2004;8 Suppl 2:S83-S88. doi:10.1016/j.ejon.2004.09.007
  • Faslodex. How to take Faslodex. AstraZeneca. Accessed June 26, 2020 at https://www.faslodex.com/taking-faslodex-metastatic-breast-cancer-treatment.html
  • Faslodex Monograph. Drugs.com. Accessed June 26, 2020 at https://www.drugs.com/faslodex.html

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