Megestrol Acetate(Generic Name)

Other Names: Megace

About This Drug

Megace is used to treat cancer. This drug is given by mouth.

Possible Side Effects (More Common)

  • Headache

Possible Side Effects (Less Common)

  • Occasional nausea
  • Mild hair loss
  • Weight gain
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Mild depression
  • Pain and redness in the calf of the leg
  • Difficulty catching your breath
  • Chest pain
  • Ankle swelling
  • Pain, weakness, and numbness in wrists

Sexual Problems and Reproduction Concerns

Pregnancy Warning: This drug may have harmful effects on the unborn child, so effective methods of birth control should be used during your cancer treatment.  Ask your doctor or nurse about effective methods of birth control.

Genetic counseling is available to you to discuss the effects of this drug therapy on future pregnancies. In addition, a genetic counselor can review the potential risks of problems in the fetus due to this medication if an exposure during pregnancy has occurred. 

Breast Feeding Warning:  Women are advised not to breast feed during treatment because this drug could enter the breast milk and seriously harm a breast feeding infant.

Treating Side Effects

    • Drink 6-8 cups of fluids every day unless your doctor has told you to restrict your fluid intake due to another medical condition. A cup is 8 ounces of fluid. If you vomit or have diarrhea, you should drink more fluids so that you do not become dehydrated.
    • Treat your hair gently. Avoid perms, coloring, heated rollers, and hot combs. If you begin to experience hair loss, speak to your doctor or nurse about using coverings and obtaining a wig.
    • Speak with your nurse about obtaining a wig before you lose your hair.  Also, call the American Cancer Society at 800-ACS-2345 to find out information about the “Look Good...Feel Better” program close to where you live. It is a free program where women undergoing chemotherapy learn about wigs, turbans and scarves as well as makeup techniques and  skin and nail care.
    • Speak to your doctor or nurse about mood swings.
    • Ask your doctor or nurse about medication that is available to help prevent or lessen nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, nasal congestion and/or sinus symptoms.
    • Vaginal lubricants can be used to lessen vaginal dryness, itching, and pain during sexual relations. 

Food and Drug Interactions

There are no known interactions of megestrol acetate with food. This drug may interact with other medication. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the medication and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs and others) that you are currently taking. The safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements and alternative diets are often unknown. Using these might unexpectedly affect your cancer or interfere with your treatment. Until more is known, you should not use dietary supplements or alternative diets without your cancer doctor's advice.

Other Instructions

  • You can mix the liquid form of this drug with water, orange juice, or apple juice.
  • Shake the liquid form of this medication well before use.
  • Both the pill and the liquid form of this medication should be stored at room temperature and protected from heat. (especially temperatures of > 77 degrees Fahrenheit)

Allergic Reaction

  • Allergic reactions including anaphylaxis are rare but may occur in some patients.  Signs of allergic reactions to this drug may include swelling of the face, feeling like your tongue or  throat are swelling,  shortness of breath,  rash, itching, fever, chills, dizziness, and/or palpitations (feeling your heart beat rapidly). Do not take another dose of this
    drug and seek immediate medical treatment.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor or nurse immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Rash or itching, dizziness or lightheadedness, or palpitations
  • Difficulty catching your breath
  • Chest pain

Call your doctor or nurse as soon as possible if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Nausea unrelieved by prescribed medication
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Pain, weakness, or numbness in wrists
  • Weight gain of five pounds or more in one week
  • Pain or redness of the calf
  • Ankle swelling

Revised November 2011

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