Megestrol is a type of hormone therapy prescribed to stimulate appetite and cause weight gain in people who have AIDS. It is also licensed to relieve symptoms of breast cancer or endometrial cancer. Megestrol is approved for use in adults only. Possible off-label uses can include treating certain symptoms of prostate cancer and loss of appetite caused by cancer.
An Overview of Uses for Megestrol
Megestrol acetate (Megace®) is a prescription hormone medication that belongs to a class of medicines known as progestins. It comes as a tablet and an oral suspension.
Megestrol oral suspension is approved to treat loss of appetite (known medically as anorexia), malnutrition, and significant weight loss in people with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The tablets are approved to treat people with advanced breast cancer or endometrial cancer (cancer of the lining of the uterus).
Megestrol tablets have been discontinued by the manufacturer and are no longer available in the United States. However, generic megestrol tablets are made by various manufacturers and are still available.
Megestrol Use for AIDS-Related Anorexia
AIDS is a disease caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). An HIV infection weakens the body's immune system by killing cells that normally fight disease. The main immune cell that HIV infects and kills is the T helper cell, also called the CD4+ T cell.
As the disease progresses, more and more CD4+ T cells are damaged by HIV. The term AIDS applies to the most advanced stages of HIV infection, when CD4+ T cell levels are severely reduced.
People with AIDS are at particular risk for opportunistic infections. Opportunistic infections are infections that would usually not make a healthy person sick. People with AIDS are also particularly prone to developing various cancers, especially those caused by viruses, such as Kaposi's sarcoma and cervical cancer, or cancers of the immune system (known as lymphomas).
In addition, AIDS can cause severe anorexia, or an inability to eat; however, this is different from anorexia nervosa, the well-known eating disorder. This results in weight loss, muscle wasting, and malnutrition, which further increases the risk for opportunistic infections and death. Using megestrol can help stimulate appetite in people with AIDS, which can help reverse weight loss.
eMedTV serves only as an informational resource. This site does not dispense medical advice or advice of any kind.
Site users seeking medical advice about their specific situation should consult with their own physician. Click