Triptorelin is also known as Decapeptyl® or Gonapeptyl®. It is used to treat prostate cancer.
Triptorelin is a hormonal therapy drug used to treat prostate cancer. It can be given alone or with other types of treatment. It is best to read this information with our general information about hormonal therapies and the type of cancer you have.
Your doctor will talk to you about this treatment and its possible side effects before you agree (consent) to have treatment.
The two types of triptorelin are Decapeptyl® and Gonapeptyl®. Both can be given by your practice nurse at your GP surgery. If you are not able to visit the GP surgery, a district nurse can give you it at home.
Decapeptyl® is given as an injection into a muscle (intramuscular). It can be given as a monthly injection or as a longer-acting injection every 3 to 6 months.
Gonapeptyl® is given as a monthly injection under the skin (subcutaneously) or into a muscle (intramuscular).
Triptorelin can be used on its own or with other types of treatment. It may be used before or after radiotherapy or after surgery.
It may also be used to control prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body (advanced or metastatic prostate cancer).
Your doctor or nurse will talk to you about your treatment plan.
If you are taking any medicines to thin your blood, tell your doctor or nurse. These medicines may increase bruising.
You may have some pain, swelling, redness or a darker colour around the area that was injected. Let your doctor know if this happens. They may be able to prescribe painkillers to help.
We explain the most common side effects of this treatment here. We also include some less common side effects.
You may get some of the side effects we mention, but you are unlikely to get all of them. If you are also having treatment with other cancer drugs, you may have some side effects that we have not listed here. Always tell your doctor, nurse or pharmacist about any side effects you have.
Your doctor can give you drugs to help control some side effects. It is important to take them exactly as your nurse or pharmacist explains. This means they will be more likely to work for you. Your nurse will give you advice about managing your side effects. After your treatment is over, most side effects start to improve.
Serious and life-threatening side effects
Some cancer treatments can cause severe side effects. Rarely, these may be life-threatening. Your cancer doctor or nurse can explain the risk of these side effects to you.
Contact the hospital
Your nurse will give you telephone numbers for the hospital. If you feel unwell or need advice, you can call them at any time of the day or night. Save these numbers in your phone or keep them somewhere safe.
We cannot list every side effect for this treatment. There are some rare side effects that are not listed. You can visit the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) for more detailed information.
Hormones are chemicals that our bodies make. Hormones act as messengers and help control how cells and organs work. Hormonal therapies are drugs that change the way hormones are made or how they work in the body.
Prostate cancer needs the hormone testosterone to grow. Almost all testosterone in men is made by the testicles.
Triptorelin stops the testicles from making testosterone. This reduces testosterone levels and may shrink the prostate cancer or stop it growing. Your doctor or nurse will explain how long you have triptorelin for.
When you start this treatment, your testosterone levels may increase for the first few days or weeks. This may make some symptoms that are caused by the cancer worse. Doctors call this tumour flare. Your doctor may prescribe a hormonal therapy for you to take as a tablet to prevent or reduce tumour flare. You usually start taking the hormonal therapy tablets before starting the cancer treatment drug. You usually continue taking them for a few weeks.
This treatment can cause back pain. If you have any back pain, weakness, numbness or tingling in your legs, tell your doctor straight away. They may give you painkillers to help.
Hot flushes and sweats
These are common. During a flush, your neck and face may feel warm and look red. Flushes can last for a few seconds or for up to 10 minutes. You may have sweats then feel cold and clammy. Some people feel anxious or irritable during a hot flush.
There are things you can do to try to reduce flushes:
- Wear clothes made from natural fabrics, such as cotton.
- Dress in layers of clothes that you can remove as needed.
- Use cotton sheets and have layers of bedding.
- Keep the room temperature cool or use a fan.
- Have cold drinks rather than hot ones. Try to avoid drinks with caffeine in them.
You may have fewer hot flushes and sweats as your body adjusts to hormonal treatment. Or your doctor can prescribe drugs to help. Some people continue to have flushes and sweats, but they usually stop a few months after treatment finishes.
You can read more about coping with hot flushes and managing hormonal symptoms in our information on prostate cancer.
Most men lose their sex drive and have erection problems during hormonal therapy. Things often return to normal after you stop taking the drug. But some men continue to have problems after treatment is over. Your doctor can prescribe treatments to help with erection problems. But these treatments will not increase your sex drive.
Feeling tired is a common side effect. Try to pace yourself and plan your day so you have time to rest. Gentle exercise, like short walks, can give you more energy. If you feel sleepy, do not drive or operate machinery.
This treatment can cause sleeplessness (insomnia) in some people. If you are finding it difficult to sleep, talk to your doctor or specialist nurse.
This treatment may cause headaches. If this happens, tell your doctor or nurse. They can give you painkillers.
This treatment may affect your skin. Your doctor or nurse can tell you what to expect. If your skin feels dry, try using an unperfumed moisturising cream every day. This treatment can cause a rash, which may be itchy.
Always tell your doctor or nurse about any skin changes. They can give you advice and may give you creams or medicines to help. Any changes to your skin are usually temporary and improve when treatment finishes.
Dizziness, blurred vision, drowsiness
This treatment can cause dizziness, blurred vision or drowsiness. Do not drive or operate machinery if you have these side effects. Talk to your doctor or nurse if you notice any of these effects.
This treatment can make you feel sick, but this is usually mild. If it does not get better, your doctor can give you anti-sickness drugs to help. Some men may get pain in their lower tummy. Let your doctor know if this happens to you.
Weight gain and loss of muscle strength
You may gain weight, particularly around your waist, and you may lose some muscle strength. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can help control your weight. Resistance exercises, such as lifting weights, may help you to reduce the loss of muscle strength. Ask your doctor or nurse for advice.
You may have some mood changes during this treatment. You may feel low or depressed. Let your doctor or nurse know if you notice any changes.
Memory or concentration
You may notice changes in your memory. You may also find it harder to concentrate. To help you remember things, try using:
- a notebook
- notes on your phone
- a calendar.
Muscle or joint pain
You may get pain in your muscles or joints. If this happens, tell your doctor so they can give you painkillers. Being physically active and keeping to a healthy weight may help with the pain and keeps your joints flexible. Let your doctor or nurse know if it does not get better.
Bone thinning (osteoporosis)
If you take this treatment for several months or more, you may get bone thinning. This is called osteoporosis. This can increase your risk of a broken bone (fracture). You may have bone density scans to check your bone health before and during treatment.
Doing regular exercise, such as walking, can improve your bone health. Eating a healthy diet can help too. Your doctor may prescribe drugs called bisphosphonates to help protect your bones. They may also advise you to take calcium and vitamin D supplements.
Build-up of fluid (oedema)
Sometimes fluid can build up in your legs and ankles, which can cause swelling. This is known as oedema. Tell your doctor or nurse if fluid builds up. If your ankles and legs swell, it can help to put your legs up on a foot stool or cushion. The swelling usually gets better after your treatment ends.
You may get a dry mouth. Drink plenty of fluids and add sauces and gravies to your food to keep it moist. If you have dry lips, using a lip balm or Vaseline® can help.
Blood pressure changes
This treatment may cause high blood pressure. Tell your doctor or nurse if you have ever had any problems with your blood pressure. Let them know if you feel dizzy or have any headaches.
Some people have an allergic reaction while having this treatment. Signs of a reaction can include:
- feeling hot or flushed
- a skin rash
- feeling dizzy
- a headache
- feeling breathless.
If you feel unwell or have any of these signs, tell a doctor or nurse straight away. Do not take any more of this treatment until you have spoken to them.
Breast swelling or tenderness
This treatment can cause swelling and tenderness of your breast tissue. This is called gynaecomastia. Your doctor can give you advice on how this can be prevented or treated.
Risk of heart changes
There may be an increased risk of developing changes in heart rhythm or heart disease when taking this treatment. Let your doctor know if you feel your heart is beating too fast or too slowly.
Contact a doctor straight away if you have pain or tightness in your chest or feel breathless or dizzy. Other conditions can cause these symptoms, but it is important to get them checked by a doctor.
Raised blood sugar levels
This treatment can raise your blood sugar levels. If you have a raised blood sugar level, you may:
- feel thirsty
- need to pee (pass urine) more often
- feel tired.
Tell your doctor or nurse if you have these symptoms.
If you have diabetes, your blood sugar levels may be higher than usual. Your doctor will talk to you about how to manage this. You may need to adjust your insulin or tablet dose.
Blood clot risk
Cancer and some cancer treatments can increase the risk of a blood clot. Symptoms of a blood clot include:
- pain, redness or swelling in a leg or arm
- chest pain.
If you have any of these symptoms, contact a doctor straight away.
A blood clot is serious, but can be treated with drugs that thin the blood. Your doctor or nurse can give you more information.
Some medicines can affect the hormonal treatment or be harmful when you are having it. This includes medicines you can buy in a shop or chemist. Tell your cancer doctor about any drugs you are taking, including vitamins, herbal drugs and complementary therapies.
Medical and dental treatment
If you need medical treatment for any reason other than cancer, always tell the doctors and nurses that you are having cancer treatment. Give them the contact details for your cancer doctor so they can ask for advice.
If you think you need dental treatment, talk to your cancer doctor or nurse. Always tell your dentist you are having cancer treatment.