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Side Effects Of Anastrozole For Breast Cancer

How To Take Arimidex

Dr. Patricia Ganz on Anastrozole versus Tamoxifen Side Effects in DCIS Patients

Follow all directions given to you by your doctor or pharmacist carefully. They may differ from the information contained in this leaflet.

Your doctor or pharmacist will tell you how many tablets you will need to take each day. This depends on your condition and whether or not you are taking any other medicines.

If you do not understand the instructions on the box, ask your doctor or pharmacist for help.

What Types Of Hormone Therapy Are Used For Breast Cancer

Several strategies are used to treat hormone-sensitive breast cancer:

Blocking ovarian function: Because the ovaries are the main source of estrogen in premenopausal women, estrogen levels in these women can be reduced by eliminating or suppressing ovarian function. Blocking ovarian function is called ovarian ablation.

Ovarian ablation can be done surgically in an operation to remove the ovaries or by treatment with radiation. This type of ovarian ablation is usually permanent.

Alternatively, ovarian function can be suppressed temporarily by treatment with drugs called gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists, which are also known as luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone agonists. By mimicking GnRH, these medicines interfere with signals that stimulate the ovaries to produce estrogen.

Estrogen and progesterone production in premenopausal women. Drawing shows that in premenopausal women, estrogen and progesterone production by the ovaries is regulated by luteinizing hormone and luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone . The hypothalamus releases LHRH, which then causes the pituitary gland to make and secrete LH and follicle-stimulating hormone . LH and FSH cause the ovaries to make estrogen and progesterone, which act on the endometrium .

Examples of ovarian suppression drugs are goserelin and leuprolide .

Blocking estrogens effects: Several types of drugs interfere with estrogens ability to stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells:

Hormone Therapy After Surgery For Breast Cancer

After surgery, hormone therapy can be given to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back. Taking an AI, either alone or after tamoxifen, has been shown to work better than taking just tamoxifen for 5 years.

These hormone therapy schedules are known to be helpful for women who are post-menopausal when diagnosed:

  • Tamoxifen for 2 to 3 years, followed by an AI for 2 to 3 years
  • Tamoxifen for 2 to 3 years, followed by an AI for 5 years
  • Tamoxifen for 4½ to 6 years, followed by an AI for 5 years
  • Tamoxifen for 5 to 10 years
  • An AI for 5 to 10 years
  • An AI for 2 to 3 years, followed by tamoxifen for 2 to 3 years
  • For women who are unable to take an AI, tamoxifen for 5 to 10 years is an option

For most post-menopausal women whose cancers are hormone receptor-positive, most doctors recommend taking an AI at some point during adjuvant therapy. Standard treatment is to take these drugs for about 5 years, or to take in sequence with tamoxifen for 5 to 10 years. For women at a higher risk of recurrence, hormone treatment for longer than 5 years may be recommended. Tamoxifen is an option for some women who cannot take an AI. Taking tamoxifen for 10 years is considered more effective than taking it for 5 years, but you and your doctor will decide the best schedule of treatment for you.

These therapy schedules are known to be helpful forwomen who are pre-menopausal when diagnosed:

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What Is Hormone Therapy

Hormone therapy slows or stops the growth of hormone-sensitive tumors by blocking the bodys ability to produce hormones or by interfering with effects of hormones on breast cancer cells. Tumors that are hormone insensitive do not have hormone receptors and do not respond to hormone therapy.

Hormone therapy for breast cancer should not be confused with menopausal hormone therapy treatment with estrogen alone or in combination with progesterone to help relieve symptoms of menopause. These two types of therapy produce opposite effects: hormone therapy for breast cancer blocks the growth of HR-positive breast cancer, whereas MHT can stimulate the growth of HR-positive breast cancer. For this reason, when a woman taking MHT is diagnosed with HR-positive breast cancer she is usually asked to stop that therapy.

Can Anastrozole Cause Problems

Pin on Breast Cancer

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with anastrozole. You will find a full list in the manufacturer’s information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Common anastrozole side-effects
Try to keep cool by wearing light, airy clothes
Feeling sick or being sick , loss of appetite Stick to simple meals – avoid rich or spicy foods
Feeling weak or sleepy This can happen when you first start treatment but quickly settles. Do not drive and do not use tools or machines if affected
Headache Drink plenty of water and ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller. If the headaches continue, let your doctor know
Diarrhoea Drink plenty of water to replace the lost fluids
Skin rash, joint aches and pains, vaginal dryness or bleeding, hair thinning, carpal tunnel syndrome, ‘pins and needles’, taste changes If any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor for advice

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the tablets, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.

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Coping With Side Effects Of Anastrozole

Like any drug, anastrozole can cause side effects. Everyone reacts differently to drugs and some people have more side effects than others.

For many people, side effects improve within the first few months of starting the treatment. However, for some people they may cause distress and disrupt everyday life.

If you have any side effects, whether theyre listed here or not, talk to your GP or treatment team. They may be able to offer ways of improving your symptoms.

Your specialist may suggest changing to a different aromatase inhibitor such as letrozole or exemestane, or another hormone treatment, as some women get on better with a different drug.

Anastrozole is made by a number of different manufacturers. Some of the tablets may have different additional ingredients . This does not change the effectiveness of the treatment. Some people find anastrozole produced by one manufacturer seems to suit them better than another.

You may wish to discuss this with your treatment team or GP, or ask the pharmacist who dispenses your prescriptions if they can supply you with anastrozole from the manufacturer you feel suits you the best.

Do Arimidex Side Effects Differ For Males And Females

At this time, Arimidex is only used in women.* The medication isnt approved for use in men with breast cancer or other conditions. Since this drug hasnt been studied in males, possible side effects of Arimidex in males are unknown.

Arimidex works by decreasing levels of estrogen, which is a female hormone. This medication may be used by males to decrease their estrogen levels if theyre taking other drugs that increase estrogen. Athletes or bodybuilders may use Arimidex for this purpose. But this use of Arimidex is illegal, and the drug may be tested for prior to sporting events or competitions.

If youre male and your doctor has recommended that you take Arimidex, talk with them about the drugs possible side effects.

* In this article, we use the terms male, female, men, and women to refer to someones sex assigned at birth. For information about the difference between sex and gender, see this article.

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What Happens When You Stop Taking Arimidex

When you stop taking Arimidex, the drug thats left in your body will be gradually broken down by your liver. How long Arimidex stays in your system can vary from person to person. But most of the drug is usually removed from your body within about 10 days.

While in your body, Arimidex works to lower your estrogen level. This hormone level will stay low for up to 6 days after youve stopped taking the drug. This is the period of time until your body starts to gradually begin making estrogen again.

If you had side effects related to low estrogen, such as hot flashes, these should start to lessen as your estrogen level increases.

Stopping Arimidex doesnt cause withdrawal symptoms. And stopping Arimidex suddenly shouldnt cause any problems for you.

If youve been taking Arimidex to lower the risk of your breast cancer coming back, studies show that your risk is still lowered for at least 5 years after you stop treatment.

If youre thinking about stopping Arimidex, talk with your doctor. They can discuss with you the risks and benefits of doing so.

How Should This Medicine Be Used

Anastrozole offers higher breast cancer-free survival rates than tamoxifen following DCIS

Anastrozole comes as a tablet to take by mouth. It is usually taken once a day with or without food. Take anastrozole at around the same time every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take anastrozole exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

You may need to take anastrozole for several years or longer. Continue to take anastrozole even if you feel well. Do not stop taking anastrozole without talking to your doctor.

Ask your pharmacist or doctor for a copy of the manufacturer’s information for the patient.

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Let The Prescriber Know About All Current Medical Conditions

In nearly every case, the oncologist prescribing anastrozole has an excellent picture of the persons current health and medical history. Medical records will have been studied and many imaging and blood tests performed. Still, the prescriber needs to know about all current medical conditions including those that may not be in the medical record. To prevent potentially serious side effects, the oncologist particularly needs to know about:

  • Problems with osteoporosis or low bone density
  • Any female hormone replacement treatments, birth control pills, or other hormonal contraception
  • Tamoxifen treatment
  • Breastfeeding or breastfeeding plans

Dosage: How Much Arimidex Should I Take

The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor’s orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For oral dosage form :
  • For breast cancer:
  • Adults1 milligram once a day.
  • ChildrenUse and dose must be determined by your doctor.

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What Are The Side Effects Of Anastrozole

Anastrozole works quickly to lower estrogen and some side effects start within 24 hours of starting anastrozole.

This is because anastrozole lowers total body estrogen levels by about 70% within 24 hours of starting the drug, which causes side effects similar to those of menopause, such as hot flashes or difficulty sleeping. These may start within a day or two of taking anastrozole.

Side effects that tend to come on quickly include hot flashes, nausea, vomiting, headache, and pain. Many of these will improve after a few days or weeks.

Other side effects, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, lymphedema, and osteoporosis take much longer to develop and may be hard to notice, but your doctor will monitor you for these.

Some side effects will persist for as long as you take anastrozole, and you may need to take medications for these. Others, such as lack of energy, nausea, and vomiting, and a headache go away within a couple of days to a few weeks.

Talk with your doctor if you are having difficulty managing your side effects from anastrozole.

Common side effects of anastrozole that affect more than 5% of women and generally start soon after therapy begins include:

  • Back, chest, muscle, stomach, or pelvic pain

What Do I Need To Tell My Doctor Before I Take This Drug

Advanced& metastatic breast cancer
  • If you are allergic to this drug any part of this drug or any other drugs, foods, or substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had.
  • If you are taking any of these drugs: Estrogen products or tamoxifen.
  • If you have not been through menopause or you are still able to have a baby.
  • If you are breast-feeding. Do not breast-feed while you take this drug and for 2 weeks after your last dose.

This is not a list of all drugs or health problems that interact with this drug.

Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your drugs and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for you to take this drug with all of your drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor.

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What Is Arimidex Used For

Arimidex is often used to treat HR+ breast cancer following other treatments for breast cancersuch as chemotherapy, surgery, or radiationor in breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body .

The Food and Drug Administration approved Arimidex for use in postmenopausal people as:

  • Add-on treatment of HR+ early breast cancer
  • Initial treatment of HR+ or hormone receptor unknown breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body
  • Treatment of advanced breast cancer that no longer responds to tamoxifen therapy

Verywell / Dennis Madamba

How To Avoid Anastrozole Side Effects

Anastrozole has a large number of possible side effects that have a significant incidence rate. That means side effects can and should be expected when taking anastrozole or other estrogen suppression treatments. But the problems dont have to be bad or frequent. A few smart moves can help minimize or even prevent some side effects.

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What Are Dosages Of Anastrozole

Dosages of Anastrozole:

Dosage Considerations Should be Given as Follows:

Breast Cancer

  • 1 mg orally once daily continue until tumor progression


  • Adjuvant treatment: 1 mg orally once daily optimal duration unknown 5 years in the clinical trial


  • It May be taken with or without food

Hepatic Impairment

  • Mild-to-moderate impairment or stable hepatic cirrhosis: Dose adjustment not necessary
  • Severe hepatic impairment: Not studied

Pediatric: Use not recommended

Arimidex Use With Other Drugs

Preventative effects of anastrozole in post-menopausal women who are at high-risk for developing…

Depending on the type of breast cancer youre using Arimidex to treat, you might take other drugs with Arimidex.

For example, Arimidex is sometimes taken with targeted therapies to treat advanced breast cancer.

Targeted therapies work on specific features of cancer cells. These therapies include drugs such as palbociclib and ribociclib .

In addition, if youre at risk for weakened bones with Arimidex treatment, you might take a medication called a bisphosphonate to help protect your bones. Examples of bisphosphonates include alendronate and risedronate . For more information about the risk of weakened bones with Arimidex treatment, see the section Arimidex side effects above.

If youd like to know more about taking other drugs with Arimidex, talk with your doctor. They can recommend a treatment plan thats right for you.

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Why Is This Medication Prescribed

Anastrozole is used with other treatments, such as surgery or radiation, to treat early breast cancer in women who have experienced menopause . This medication is also used in women, who have experienced menopause, as a first treatment of breast cancer that has spread within the breast or to other areas of the body. This medication is also used to treat breast cancer in women whose breast cancer has worsened after taking tamoxifen . Anastrozole is in a class of medications called nonsteroidal aromatase inhibitors. It works by decreasing the amount of estrogen the body makes. This can slow or stop the growth of many types of breast cancer cells that need estrogen to grow.

When You Must Not Take It

Do not take ARIMIDEX if you are pregnant or intend to become pregnant. ARIMIDEX may affect your developing baby if you take it during pregnancy.

Do not breastfeed while taking ARIMIDEX. Your baby can take in ARIMIDEX from breast milk if you are breastfeeding.

Do not take ARIMIDEX if you have an allergy to:

  • Anastrozole, the active ingredient of ARIMIDEX
  • Any of the other ingredients of ARIMIDEX listed at the end of this leaflet
  • Other anti-oestrogen medicines.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include shortness of breath, wheezing or difficulty in breathing swelling of the face, lips, tongue or any other parts of the body rash, itching or hives on the skin.

Do not take ARIMIDEX if you are still having menstrual periods.

ARIMIDEX should only be taken by women who are no longer having menstrual periods.

Do not take ARIMIDEX if you are a man. Men are not normally treated with ARIMIDEX.

Do not give ARIMIDEX to a child. ARIMIDEX is not recommended for use in children.

Do not take ARIMIDEX after the use by date printed on the pack. Do not take ARIMIDEX if the packaging is torn or shows signs of tampering. If it has expired or is damaged, return it to your pharmacist for disposal

Do not use it to treat any other complaints unless your doctor tells you to.

Do not give this medicine to anyone else.

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