Estramustine | Side Effects, Dosage, Uses & More
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Generic Name:

estramustine, Oral capsule

All Brands

  • Emcyt
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Highlights for estramustine

Oral capsule
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Estramustine is used for the palliative treatment of prostate cancer. Palliative treatment is used to relieve the symptoms of your condition to improve your quality of life. This drug doesn’t treat prostate cancer. This drug is given when the cancer is progressing or has metastasized (spread to other parts of your body).

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This drug comes in the form of a capsule you take by mouth.

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Estramustine is available as the brand-name drug Emcyt. It isn’t available as a generic drug.

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The more common side effects of this drug include nausea, vomiting, swelling in your hands or feet, and breast tenderness or growth.

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In some cases, estramustine can cause serious side effects. These can include blood clots, heart attack, or stroke.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

High blood pressure

This drug may cause high blood pressure. If you already have high blood pressure, it may make your condition worse. Your doctor may check your blood pressure before and during your treatment with this drug.

Blood clots

This drug increases your risk of blood clots. A blood clot can lead to heart attack. It can be fatal (cause death). If you already have heart disease or have had a blood clot in the past, ask your doctor if this medication is safe for you.

Breast enlargement

This drug may cause breast tenderness and growth. In most cases, this effect will go away after you stop taking the drug.

Inability to get or keep an erection

This medication may cause impotence (the inability to get or keep an erection). In most cases, this effect will go away after you stop taking the drug.

Drug features

Estramustine is a prescription drug. It’s available as an oral capsule.

Estramustine is available as the brand-name drug Emcyt. It isn’t available as a generic drug.

This drug may be used as part of a combination therapy. This means you may need to take it with other medications to treat your symptoms.

Why it's used

Estramustine is used for the palliative treatment of prostate cancer. It’s given when your cancer is progressing or has metastasized (spread to other parts of your body). This drug doesn’t treat prostate cancer. Palliative treatment is used to relieve the symptoms caused by your cancer to improve your quality of life.

How it works

Estramustine belongs to a class of drugs called anticancer drugs. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

Estramustine works by stopping prostate cells from growing and dividing.

More Details

How it works

Estramustine belongs to a class of drugs called anticancer drugs. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

Estramustine works by stopping prostate cells from growing and dividing. This stops tumors from growing. This drug also lowers the amount of testosterone in your body. This may help shrink your prostate cancer.

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estramustine Side Effects

Oral capsule

More common side effects

The more common side effects of estramustine can include:

  • nausea

  • vomiting

  • swelling in your hands or feet

  • breast tenderness or growth

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious side effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 9-1-1 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • Heart attack. Symptoms can include:

    • chest pain
    • shortness of breath
    • discomfort, tightness, or pain in your upper body
  • Stroke. Symptoms can include:

    • weakness in one part or side of your body
    • slurred speech
  • Blood clot in a vein. Symptoms can include:

    • pain and warmth in your leg or arm
    • redness
    • swelling in your leg or arm
  • Blood clot in your lung. Symptoms can include:

    • chest pain
    • coughing up blood
    • fast pulse
    • fast breathing
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Estramustine doesn’t cause drowsiness.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
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estramustine May Interact with Other Medications

Oral capsule

Estramustine can interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs you may be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well.

To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking. To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Food interactions

You shouldn’t drink milk or eat foods that are high in calcium while you’re taking this drug. Foods that are high in calcium include dairy products, such as cheese or yogurt. Calcium can make it harder for your body to absorb estramustine. This may lower the amount of the drug in your body. This means that it may not work as well to treat your symptoms.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Drugs you should not use with estramustine

Do not take these drugs with estramustine. Doing so can cause dangerous effects in your body. Examples of these drugs include:

  • Calcium-rich drugs, such as calcium carbonate, calcium citrate, and antacids (such as Tums)
    • These drugs can lower how much estramustine your body absorbs. This means that estramustine may not work as well to treat your symptoms.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.

People with heart problems

This drug can increase your risk of blood clots. You may be at a higher risk of developing a blood clot if you’ve had heart problems in the past or if you have had a stroke. Ask your doctor if this drug is safe for you.

People with diabetes

This drug can lead to high blood sugar levels. This can make your diabetes worse. Your doctor should monitor you closely during your treatment with this drug.

People with fluid retention

Your doctor will watch you closely during your treatment with this drug if you have conditions that are affected by fluid retention. These include congestive heart disease, seizures, migraines, and kidney disease. This drug may make your condition worse.

People with liver problems

If you have liver problems or a history of liver disease, you may not be able to process this drug well. This may increase the levels of this drug in your body and cause more side effects. Ask your doctor if this medication is safe for you.

People with bone disease

If you have a bone disease that causes your calcium levels to get too high, the calcium in your blood might bind to this drug. This may lower the amount of this medication in your body. This means that it may not work as well. Your doctor will monitor your calcium levels closely and may increase your dose of this drug if needed.

People with kidney disease

If you have kidney problems that cause your calcium levels to get too high, the calcium in your blood might bind to this drug. This may lower the amount of estramustine in your body. This means that this drug may not work as well to treat your symptoms. Your doctor will monitor your calcium levels closely and may increase your dose of this drug if needed.

For children

This medication hasn’t been studied in children. It shouldn’t be used in people younger than 18 years of age.

Allergies

Estramustine can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of your throat or tongue

If you have an allergic reaction, call your doctor or local poison control center right away. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal (cause death).

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How to Take estramustine (Dosage)

Oral capsule

All possible dosages and drug forms may not be included here. Your dosage, drug form, and how often you take the drug will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What are you taking this medication for?

Palliative treatment of metastatic prostate cancer

Brand: Emcyt

Form: Oral capsule
Strength: 140 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)
  • Typical dosage: Your doctor will calculate your dose based on your body weight. You’ll take this drug three or four times per day.
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

This medication hasn’t been studied in children. It shouldn’t be used in people younger than 18 years.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Estramustine comes with serious risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If you stop taking the drug suddenly or don’t take it at all

Your prostate cancer symptoms won’t improve.

If you miss doses or don’t take the drug on schedule

Your medication may not work as well or may stop working completely. For this drug to work well, a certain amount needs to be in your body at all times.

If you take too much

You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body. Symptoms of an overdose of this drug can include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • upset stomach
  • reduced number of blood cells
  • liver damage

If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor or local poison control center. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

What to do if you miss a dose

Take your dose as soon as you remember. If you remember just a few hours before your next scheduled dose, take only one dose. Never try to catch up by taking two doses at once. This could result in dangerous side effects.

How to tell if the drug is working

Your cancer symptoms will improve.

Estramustine can be used for short-term or long-term treatment.

The length of your treatment depends on your body’s response to it, including any side effects you have. Your doctor will decide after 30 or 90 days of treatment if you should continue to take this medication.

Important considerations for taking estramustine

Don’t take this drug with food

Take it at least 1 hour before meals or 2 hours after. You shouldn’t take it with food or drinks that contain calcium, such as milk or dairy products.

Store this drug carefully

  • Store estramustine in the refrigerator. Keep it between 36°F and 46°F (2°C and 8°C). 

A prescription for this medication is refillable

You should not need a new prescription for this medication to be refilled. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you. When flying, never put it into a checked bag. Keep it in a cooler in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport x-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
  • Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Your medication needs to be refrigerated.

Self-management

Your doctor may suggest that you check your blood pressure at home. You should keep a log with the date, time, and your blood pressure readings. Bring this log with you to your doctor visits.

Clinical monitoring

You and your doctor should monitor certain health issues. This can help make sure you stay safe while you take this drug. These issues include:

  • Blood pressure. This drug can increase your blood pressure. You and your doctor should monitor your blood pressure during your treatment.
  • Calcium levels. If your prostate cancer has spread to your bones, your doctor will monitor your calcium levels with a blood test.

Hidden costs

You may need to buy a home blood pressure monitor.

Insurance

Many insurance companies require a prior authorization for this drug. This means your doctor may need to get approval from your insurance company before your insurance company will pay for the prescription.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.

What does the pill look like?

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Show Sources

  • Pfizer, Inc. (2007, July). Emcyt estramustine phosphate sodium capsules [package insert]. New York, NY. 

Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on February 12, 2016

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
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