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Why is prednisone prescribed with Zytiga?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on Dec 12, 2022.

Official answer


Key Points

Zytiga (abiraterone acetate) is taken with oral prednisone to help manage side effects that might occur with this treatment. Zytiga blocks the production of cortisol from your adrenal glands. Prednisone helps to replace the lost cortisol that can cause side effects such as low blood potassium levels, fluid build up (edema), high blood pressure or irregular heartbeats.

Some of these side effects can be life-threatening, so it is important that you take prednisone with Zytiga exactly as your doctor prescribes it. Do not stop taking your dose of Zytiga or prednisone without talking to your healthcare provider first.

Your healthcare provider will check your blood pressure, potassium levels, and fluid retention every month during your treatment with Zytiga.

Tell your doctor if you get any of the following symptoms:

  • dizziness
  • confusion
  • fast or irregular heartbeats
  • muscle weakness
  • feel faint or lightheaded
  • pain in your legs
  • headache
  • swelling in your legs or feet

Zytiga is used together with prednisone to treat prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. Zytiga is used in men with castration-resistant prostate cancer, which means their prostate cancer cannot be treated with surgery or other medicines.

Prednisone is in the class of medicines known as corticosteroids (or "steroids).

How does Zytiga work in prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer growth is driven by testosterone, an androgen hormone. Zytiga stops the production of testosterone throughout the body by blocking an enzyme known as cytochrome P450 17A1 (CYP17A1) that plays a role in testosterone production.

Androgens are male hormones that can promote tumor growth in the prostate gland. Zytiga blocks androgens at the testes, the adrenal glands, and at the tumor site. Your adrenal glands are located above your kidneys and make important hormones you need, including cortisol, aldosterone, adrenaline and androgens.

Zytiga is often given in combination with androgen deprivation therapy (ADT). Studies have shown adding Zytiga, Janssen Biotech, can improve how long patients live over using ADT alone.

Learn More: 15 Prostate Cancer Facts You Simply Can't Ignore

This is not all the information you need to know about Zytiga (abiraterone acetate) for safe and effective use. Review the full Zytiga information here, and discuss any questions you have with your doctor or other health care provider.


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