Femara (letrozole) is an oral prescription medication used in treating early stage breast cancer in postmenopausal women. The growth of some breast cancers in postmenopausal women is promoted by estrogens that circulate in the blood, and the adrenal glands are the main source of these circulating estrogens. Femara acts to inhibit the enzyme in the adrenal glands (aromatase) that produces the estrogens, estradiol and estrone. Manufactured by Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Femara is also used for treating postmenopausal women after surgery who have hormone-sensitive early breast cancer.
Femara is prescribed to treat postmenopausal women with early stage breast cancer by inhibiting cancer-promoting estrogens that circulate in the blood.
Letrozole was approved by the FDA in 1997 to treat postmenopausal women with breast cancer that are resistant to the more commonly-used anti-estrogen medications such as tamoxifen (Nolvadex).
The most common side effects associated with Femara are nausea, vomiting, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, diarrhea, constipation, chest pain, night sweats, and weight gain. Studies are undergoing to determine if Femara is causing any bone density damage or problems relating to the bones.
Recent reports have found that Femara is being prescribed by fertility physicians to induce ovulation, especially in infertile females. The use of Femara as a fertility drug suppresses the development of estrogen that can cause ovulation to occur. However, it should not be taken by pregnant women, or women who are trying to become pregnant, as letrozole causes substantial damage to the fetus.
Femara is contraindicated in patients with known hypersensitivity to Femara or any of its components, and is contraindicated in women who are pregnant or may become pregnant.
What are the three components of breast cancer?
In order to determine the stage of breast cancer, an oncologist considers three important components: tumor size, nodal status, and metastasis.
- Tumor size- The size of the primary tumor is one of the main distinguishing characteristics.
- Nodal status- Nodal status indicates the presence or absence of cancer cells in glands or lymph nodes (small bean-shaped organs that make and store cells that fight infection; found in many places in the body, including under the arms, behind the ears and in the groin). Nodal status helps to define the stage of breast cancer.
- Metastasis- Metastasis describes cancer that has spread from the affected breast to other areas of the body – soft tissue such as tissue of the opposite breast, distant lymph nodes, or skin, organs such as the liver or lungs, and bone.
What is letrozole?
Letrozole is a type of drug called an aromatase inhibitor. Aromatase inhibitors work by limiting the ability of an enzyme called aromatase to create estrogen – a major growth factor in hormone-receptor positive breast cancers.
Can I file a lawsuit if I have suffered damages from taking Femara?
Possibly. While all medications have certain, anticipated side effects, a drug manufacturer has a duty to inform physicians adequately regarding the known risks associated with its drugs. If a manufacturer fails to do so, it can be held responsible to patients who are injured as the result of inadequate warnings, under a legal theory known as “product liability.” Depending upon the particular circumstances of your case, damages may include recovery for any of the following:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Emotional distress
If you or a loved one has experienced any health problems while taking Femara, you should contact your doctor immediately. You may also wish to contact an experienced Femara lawyer to discuss your legal options. As all legal claims are subject to time limits, however, you may risk forfeiture of your right to financial compensation if you delay.