Concerned about the side effects of anastrozole

Posted by tinalove @tinalove, Jan 31, 2016

I completed all treatments for breast cancer but now I am supposed to take hormone blocker, named anastrozole. im concerned about the side effects. Has anyone here taken it and did anyone have hair loss?

I’ve been taking my Anastrozole sine the first week in January 2017. For the most part, joint pain, brain fog and fatigue are my most difficult side effects, which I began to experience in 3-4 mos. The joint pain was the worst in my hands-fingers and wrists. I felt like my legs were heavy and felt OLD!!! By the 5-6 months, my general feeling of malaise began to pass. While the joint painin my hands-fingers & wrists diminished, I continue to experience numbness and tingling, as well weakness.
Generally, I consider myself as better tolerating it, continue to feel tired but NO hair loss whatsoever. Not quite sure about my hair thinning, but I’m keeping my eye on this.
I feel you have to give the drug 6 months to know how you’ll tolerate it. Ultimately,
I feel I will continue to take it fir the long haul.
Good luck to you!
PS
I feel that the side effects creeped up on me, so I’d recommend that you keep a journal fir a while.

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Thank you Shenriq. Your advice is very helpful

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@hereigoagain

Almost 4 months on anastrozole, My quality of life is not what I had hoped for. But I refuse to complain as I have had 27 more years than was expected. 27 years ago I had a mastectomy and chemotherapy followed by 5 years of tamoxofin. As the years went by the fear of recurrence decreased. When I reached 20 years I thought I made it. During testing for another health concern a tumor was found which ultimately was determined to be breast cancer that had decided to come back in my lungs. So the game plan is anastrozole. I was told what the side effects would be but I have to admit they are not as tolerable as I thought they would be. I don’t know if it is because I haven’t figure out how to get ahead of the pain or is the pain in my legs that severe. I try to exercise which helps a little. It also makes me tired and I hate that because I don’t want to miss out on any of life. I luckily have not had any hair thinning. Any suggestions to help with the pain and tiredness that I feel.

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I’m on Anastrozole since 1st week in January. I thought I was symptom free until 3 months into the drug, wherein I realized that the effects seemed to sneak up on me, largely joint pain. I began to feel old, my wrists became weak and hurt, as well my fingers.
By the time I was approaching the end of my 5th month and in my 6th month, I began to feel a dramatic improvement. My joint pain remains in my hands, but feel less hurtful; I do experience fatigue and for sure, I sometimes grope for words, but I feel I can tolerate it and will continue. No loss of hair, but I think I’m noticing some thinning, which doesn’t trouble me.
Wishing you luck to you!

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@canada

I had stage 1 breast cancer, no lymph nodes involved, decided not to have radiation, and am now on Anastrozole since March. I don’t like the pill….have hair thinning, joint pain, mood swings, bone lost…and I do wonder what percentage of women stop the pill, and get cancer again…..has anyone out there stopped the pill, and is still fine? Also, I thought I would wait for my mammogram in October and make a decision then….that would mean I was on the pill for only 7 months. Any thoughts….Suzie

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I believe STRESS can ,also, cause hair loss. I did experience that and my dermatologist stated is was due to stress.

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@colleenyoung

Hi @tinalove, welcome to Connect.
You’ll notice that I moved your message into the Breast Cancer group.

Anastrozole belongs to a class of drugs called aromatase inhibitors. You can find out more about them and what to expect here http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/hormone-therapy-for-breast-cancer/basics/what-you-can-expect/prc-20015050 On the list of side effects of anastozole, hair loss is listed as an uncommon side effect.

It would be nice to get a first-hand experience for someone who has taken hormone therapy. I’m tagging @luladavis @maureenkarras and @lecase to see if they will join this discussion.

Maureen wrote a while back about side effects of exemestane, one of the other aromatase inhibitors https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/dry-skin-red-itching-burning-and-peeling/ and Lecase asked about the pros and cons of anastrozole and tamoxifen. https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/can-anyone-speak-to-the-proscons-of-arimidex-vs-tomoxifen-ive-been-on/

Tina, what kind of breast cancer did you have and what treatments? How are you doing?

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I have been taking anastrozole for 2.5 years now, and it is not clear to me what is a side effect and what is just aging. I suppose the minor hot flashes are a side effect, but ice water takes care of that. I have increased back pain and difficulty sleeping, but these existed to a lesser extent before I started the drug. I am waiting for the results of a bone density test.
My cousin took this drug 20 years ago with no problems, and her friend accidentally took for 10 years (misunderstood how long she was supposed to take it) and she had no issues with it. So, it appears from reading all the responses on here, that reactions are certainly highly personalized! I hope we all get through all this cancer and therapy and live long healthy lives!

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I had surgery, chemo, and radiation, and since I was staged at 3C it didn’t seem an option not to take an aromatase inhibitor. I’ve been on anastrozole for a little over two years. I see the range of side effects others have and count myself lucky. I may have had a little hair loss, maybe a little weight gain, but I think that’s all.

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@colleenyoung

Hi @tinalove, welcome to Connect.
You’ll notice that I moved your message into the Breast Cancer group.

Anastrozole belongs to a class of drugs called aromatase inhibitors. You can find out more about them and what to expect here http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/hormone-therapy-for-breast-cancer/basics/what-you-can-expect/prc-20015050 On the list of side effects of anastozole, hair loss is listed as an uncommon side effect.

It would be nice to get a first-hand experience for someone who has taken hormone therapy. I’m tagging @luladavis @maureenkarras and @lecase to see if they will join this discussion.

Maureen wrote a while back about side effects of exemestane, one of the other aromatase inhibitors https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/dry-skin-red-itching-burning-and-peeling/ and Lecase asked about the pros and cons of anastrozole and tamoxifen. https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/can-anyone-speak-to-the-proscons-of-arimidex-vs-tomoxifen-ive-been-on/

Tina, what kind of breast cancer did you have and what treatments? How are you doing?

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Thanks Jane

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@cautiousoptimism

I have been taking arimidex for 8 months since dx of lobular carcinoma. I have many side effects, including hair thinning. Has anyone else experienced this? Will I eventually lose it all?

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Hello Cautious Optimist! I’m emailing because I’m also a lobular carcinoma (bi lateral mastectomy Nov 2015 – stage 1). There aren’t too many ‘lobulars’ out there so I thoughts I’d reach out to you. It’s not as common (but second most common)…only about 10% of breast cancers. It’s a sneaky one which is why I’m agonized so much over not being able to tolerate the drugs. I get every side effect and then some. I’ll just have to take my chances on the cancer I guess, but I have constant second thoughts.

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Did you have a choice as to whether you could have a lumpectomy or not? I also had invasive lobular carcinoma , stage 1 but I opted for a lumpectomy. Just kind of wondering if that was the right thing to do.

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@gramamom

Did you have a choice as to whether you could have a lumpectomy or not? I also had invasive lobular carcinoma , stage 1 but I opted for a lumpectomy. Just kind of wondering if that was the right thing to do.

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I’m not very good at this site and so once again I’m jumping in (like a bad conversationalist at a cocktail party). I chose a bi lateral mastectomy (at Stage 1) because I’d had a lumpectomy at Stage 0. My Stage 0 was in my left breast and Stage 1 was in the right. Because lobular like to hit both sides I just decided to remove my breasts to avoid future tests and lumpectomies. I could have had just a lumpectomy, that was an option. I have low tolerance for worry (I am a very good worrier) and I knew that I wanted to reduce my risk as much as possible. I am now at pretty low risk and that’s good because I can’t take the aromatase drugs – I get the worst of the worst side effects, but I still worry about cancer coming back (we all do of course). I turned 58 a few days after my bi lateral and really don’t miss my breasts at all, so that was another factor for me. I also found that the surgery was not that much more involved or painful than the lumpectomies I had done….so if that becomes a decision you might have to make, most women are in agreement it’s not so bad. BUT, I have opted for the most extreme care for emotional reasons and I don’t think research shows that a mastectomy increases longevity much more than lumpectomy in many cases. Hope this helps. No matter what decisions we make…..it’s hard not to question the choices. Someday they’ll have this figured out and we can all look back and see how our decisions pan out.

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@colleenyoung

Welcome @cautiousoptimism.
@tinalove asked this very question a little while ago, so I moved your message to this discussion thread. View the full thread to see the great responses from @leemiller @luladavis @maureenkarras and @grandma41. It sure helps to hear from women how have been there!

@cautiousoptimism, What other side effects have you been dealing with?

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What meds were you on to cause your hair loss?

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