Goserelin (Zoladex) for prostate cancer

Goserelin is a type of hormone therapy. It is also known as Zoladex. You might have it as a treatment for breast or prostate cancer.

This page is about goserelin for prostate cancer.

How goserelin works

Goserelin is a type of hormone therapy called luteinising hormone blocker. This means it stops the release of luteinising hormone (LH) from the pituitary gland. This stops the testicles producing the male sex hormone testosterone.

Prostate cancer depends on testosterone to grow. The aim of hormone therapy for prostate cancer is to reduce or stop the body making testosterone, which slows down the growth of cancer or shrinks it.

How you have goserelin

You have goserelin as an injection just under the skin of your tummy (abdomen). It is called a depot injection, which means that the drug is slowly absorbed into your body over a period of time. 

You might have stinging or a dull ache for a short time after this type of injection but they don't usually hurt much. The skin in the area may go red and itchy for a while.

When you have goserelin

You have the injection every 4 weeks or every 12 weeks. If you have it every 12 weeks, you have a type of goserelin called Zoladex LA. 

Let your doctor or nurse know if the gap between your appointments isn’t 4 or 12 weeks. They will make sure you have the injection on time. 

You usually have goserelin injections for a long period of time.

Tests

You have blood tests before and during your treatment. They check your levels of blood cells and other substances in the blood. They also check how well your liver and kidneys are working.

Side effects

How often and how severe the side effects are can vary from person to person. They also depend on what other treatment you are having. For example, your side effects could be worse if you are also having other drugs or radiotherapy.

When to contact your team

Your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist will go through the possible side effects. They will monitor you closely during treatment and check how you are at your appointments. Contact your advice line as soon as possible if:

  • you have severe side effects 
  • your side effects aren’t getting any better
  • your side effects are getting worse
Early treatment can help manage side effects better.

We haven't listed all the side effects here. Remember it is very unlikely that you will have all of these side effects, but you might have some of them at the same time.

Common side effects

These side effects happen in more than 10 in 100 people (more than 10%). You might have one or more of them. They include:

Hot flushes and sweats

We have some tips for coping with hot flushes and the possible treatments for men and women. Talk to your doctor if your hot flushes are hard to cope with. They might be able to prescribe you some medicines.

This can continue for some time after you stop having goserelin. 

Less interest in sex (low libido)

Talk to your doctor if you have this. You might be able to have some treatments to help with low libido. 

Inflammation around the injection site

Tell your nurse if you notice any signs of redness or irritation around the injection site.

Erection problems

You might have problems getting an erection (impotence). Talk to your doctor or nurse if you have problems getting an erection. There are treatments that can help, such as medicines, vacuum pumps and injections or pellets. Your doctor or nurse can refer you to a specialist in this area.

Occasional side effects

These side effects happen in between 1 and 10 out of every 100 people (between 1 and 10%). You might have one or more of them. They include:

  • high blood sugar levels
  • changes in your mood (including depression)
  • tingling in your fingers or toes
  • pain in your lower back or problems passing urine. Contact your advice line if this happens
  • heart problems which can be serious
  • changes in blood pressure
  • skin rash
  • pain in your bones and thinning of your bones
  • swelling and tenderness of your breasts
  • weight gain

Rare side effects

This side effects happens in fewer than 1 in 100 people (fewer than 1%). You might have one or more of them. They include:

  • development of a pituitary tumour, this is very rare
  • allergic reaction such as a rash, hives on the skin, swelling of the face or shortness of breath. If this happens, see a doctor straight away
  • seeing, hearing or feeling things that aren’t there. Always let your doctor know if this happens
  • joint pain
  • a blockage in one or both of the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder

Coping with side effects

We have more information about side effects and tips on how to cope with them.

What else do I need to know?

Other medicines, foods and drink

Cancer drugs can interact with some other medicines and herbal products. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about any medicines you are taking. This includes vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter remedies.

Pregnancy and contraception

This treatment might harm a baby developing in the womb. It is important not to father a child while you are having treatment and for a few months afterwards. Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception before starting treatment.

Treatment for other conditions

Always tell other doctors, nurses, pharmacists or dentists that you’re having this treatment if you need treatment for anything else, including teeth problems.

More information about this treatment

For further information about this treatment go to the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) website.

You can report any side effect you have to the Medicines Health and Regulatory Authority (MHRA) as part of their Yellow Card Scheme.

Related links