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?

@seabrz

I've been on Anastrozole for almost 2 years. At first I really suffered from joint pains, but that eased with time. It has severely affected my bones and my hair seems to be falling out a bit more than I'd expect, but I don't know if that's age or the Anastrozole. It also has caused hot flashes, skin dryness and fatigue. I'm post menopause, so some of these issues I would expect with age, but I never really experienced hot flashes before and my skin was a bit dry, but nothing like it is now. Still very thankful this option is available though and have no plans of stopping.

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I am happy that you’ve adjusted to Anastrozole and are investing in a proactive mode. The joint pain and dry skin were too much, as well Aromasin.
I’ve been on Letrozole going on 4 months and it has literally been 9 days that I realized my joint pain has dramatically lessened — and I am thrilled!!! I still have joint issues in my hands and wrists, but I’m feeling hopeful and if things continue like this, I can tolerate this for my 5 year commitment.
I am so relieved.

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@seabrz

I've been on Anastrozole for almost 2 years. At first I really suffered from joint pains, but that eased with time. It has severely affected my bones and my hair seems to be falling out a bit more than I'd expect, but I don't know if that's age or the Anastrozole. It also has caused hot flashes, skin dryness and fatigue. I'm post menopause, so some of these issues I would expect with age, but I never really experienced hot flashes before and my skin was a bit dry, but nothing like it is now. Still very thankful this option is available though and have no plans of stopping.

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I have just received  a call from my internist telling me that my ColonGuard test was positive and that I need to have a colonoscopy. Apparently this test has an 80% false positive rate, so I don't even know why I bothered. I am terrified of the colonoscopy, assuming that I have another cancer site. Also, for the last 4 months I have been developing very painful sore throats and mouth sores. I have only been on Arimidex for 9 months. The joint pain, hot flashes,fatigue, etc. were tolerable but I cannot continue feeling like I have the flu every other week. I will see my oncologist in 3 weeks. I am totally anxiety riddled and am being treated for depression (an ongoing problem) although the depression hardly ever goes away.  I appreciate your response. I generally avoid support groups ~ They either scare me or make me more nervous about my breast cancer.

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@seabrz

I've been on Anastrozole for almost 2 years. At first I really suffered from joint pains, but that eased with time. It has severely affected my bones and my hair seems to be falling out a bit more than I'd expect, but I don't know if that's age or the Anastrozole. It also has caused hot flashes, skin dryness and fatigue. I'm post menopause, so some of these issues I would expect with age, but I never really experienced hot flashes before and my skin was a bit dry, but nothing like it is now. Still very thankful this option is available though and have no plans of stopping.

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Hi Mary @mollymiller, Imagine I've just poured you a cup of tea and we're sitting down together. If I were sitting across from you right now, this is what I would tell you. Thank goodness that you did the ColonGuard test. While it has a high false positive rate, you can get a colonoscopy to make sure. The best thing about screening for this type of cancer is that it can be stopped in its tracks. Colon cancer is very slow growing. It often starts with stage 0 polyps which IF you have any, they can remove during the colonoscopy.

The preparation for a colonoscopy is icky! I'm not going to lie, but in hindsight it really isn't that bad. I try the mind over matter thing and pretend I'm at some fancy spa doing a cleanse LOL. I've had 2 colonoscopies because of high familial risk. The second one they found a nasty polyp and removed it. I was so relieved that I hadn't delayed the procedure.

Here's another little thing to make you giggle. Like you, I'm not a great sleeper. The deep rest that I awake from after a colonoscopy is my fringe benefit — that along with the warm blankets. Spa? Well no, but imagining that it is helps me. We can get through this together.

Would you like another cup of tea?

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@seabrz

I've been on Anastrozole for almost 2 years. At first I really suffered from joint pains, but that eased with time. It has severely affected my bones and my hair seems to be falling out a bit more than I'd expect, but I don't know if that's age or the Anastrozole. It also has caused hot flashes, skin dryness and fatigue. I'm post menopause, so some of these issues I would expect with age, but I never really experienced hot flashes before and my skin was a bit dry, but nothing like it is now. Still very thankful this option is available though and have no plans of stopping.

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Hello, Colleen ~ Thank you for your kind letter~ I appreciate it!
I had a colonoscopy 10 years ago as a "baseline" and it was completely clear. The gastroenterologist sat down with me (and my husband who is a G.P.) and gave us the all clear and said he would see me in 5 years. My husband mentioned that (at that time) the test was recommended ever 10 years for a person with a clear scope and no family history. The gastro. replied that he thought I had a family history, and that I did not need one for 10 years. Easy mistake. This year, 10 years to the month after my 1st colonoscopy, I received a form letter from the gastro's office stating that I was due for my colonoscopy. After no reply from me, my internist's office then called me and said it was time for my colonoscopy. I said I would rather opt for something less invasive. He suggested ColonGuard and so I concurred. However, having several other medical issues, I did not immediately send in the test. Several weeks later I received a letter from ColonGuard offering me a $30.00 gift card if I would send my specimen back before 3/15/18. I thought, "what the heck?" ~ Yesterday my internist called with my positive results and said that his office would set up my colonoscopy. He reassured me that 8 out of 10 ColonGuards do not reveal cancer but can find polyps. The positive result shook me. That is when my husband mentioned the state of medicine these days and brought up several topics, mentioning that if I had not returned the ColoGuard, my internist would not be paid for the procedure.I must sound like a conspiracy theorist ~ But several of the things my husband said rang true. I have decided to do an at-home FIT. If it is negative, I have a problem. If it is POSITIVE, I'll be off like a shot to get my colonoscopy!By the way, I too treated my first prep like a day at the spa! Lot's of fancy waters, a stack of magazines in a basket in my bathroom, aromatherapy, etc! I truly didn't mind it very much. I did enjoy the anesthesia! Not that I would make a habit of having surgeries for the pleasant floating trip to lala land!  

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I hope you are all having better days. I am 65 years old & been on anastrozole for 13 months. I started to experience increased fatigue, insomnia, hot flashes, increased joint pain, depression, thinning hair, & dry skin within the first few months. I had a small lumpectomy in Sep 2016 for pleomorphic LCIS, which is treated as DCIS, but the margins weren't clear enough. My husband passed away Dec 2016 after 3 1/3 years of declining health & becoming an invalid with me as the primary caregiver/health navigator/saddening wife & best friend. I then had a larger lumpectomy with reconstruction in Feb 2017 and concurrently started hormone therapy. Breast reduction of the left breast was done at the same time of the last lumpectomy because the amount of right breast tissue taken was so large, there was gross disparity in size. Due to healing problems with the surgical sites, I couldn't start radiation therapy til Jun 2017. I couldn't discern if the symptoms were grief, hypothyroid, arthritis, fibromyalgia, aging, radiation, &/or anastrozole. I have just developed new onset moderate to severe hand pain within the last month or so. In addition to an active prayer life, I take a medication regimen that keeps me balanced, positive, moving, & functional – antidepressants (Cymbalta, welbutrin), trazodone (sedative to get to sleep), D3, gabapentin, Armour (thyroid), aspirin, Ubiquinol (CoQ10), Aleve, fish oil, joint support formula, & of course, anastrozole. I take other meds for bladder control & GI reflux. I'm counting the months until the 5 years are up to see what all goes away or decreases. In the meantime, I don't want any form of cancer so I will do what the oncologists/surgeons deems most appropriate & tolerate the SE. "May the wind be at your back, the sun in your face, and the love of God in your heart!"

Liked by Molly MIller

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Have you tried acupuncture for pain relief? I also use massage on a regular basis and find it helpful for pain control.

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@lexalaska

I hope you are all having better days. I am 65 years old & been on anastrozole for 13 months. I started to experience increased fatigue, insomnia, hot flashes, increased joint pain, depression, thinning hair, & dry skin within the first few months. I had a small lumpectomy in Sep 2016 for pleomorphic LCIS, which is treated as DCIS, but the margins weren't clear enough. My husband passed away Dec 2016 after 3 1/3 years of declining health & becoming an invalid with me as the primary caregiver/health navigator/saddening wife & best friend. I then had a larger lumpectomy with reconstruction in Feb 2017 and concurrently started hormone therapy. Breast reduction of the left breast was done at the same time of the last lumpectomy because the amount of right breast tissue taken was so large, there was gross disparity in size. Due to healing problems with the surgical sites, I couldn't start radiation therapy til Jun 2017. I couldn't discern if the symptoms were grief, hypothyroid, arthritis, fibromyalgia, aging, radiation, &/or anastrozole. I have just developed new onset moderate to severe hand pain within the last month or so. In addition to an active prayer life, I take a medication regimen that keeps me balanced, positive, moving, & functional – antidepressants (Cymbalta, welbutrin), trazodone (sedative to get to sleep), D3, gabapentin, Armour (thyroid), aspirin, Ubiquinol (CoQ10), Aleve, fish oil, joint support formula, & of course, anastrozole. I take other meds for bladder control & GI reflux. I'm counting the months until the 5 years are up to see what all goes away or decreases. In the meantime, I don't want any form of cancer so I will do what the oncologists/surgeons deems most appropriate & tolerate the SE. "May the wind be at your back, the sun in your face, and the love of God in your heart!"

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'Just sent a long letter to you and it flew into cyberspace. Basically I am taking a lot of the same anti-depressants and sedatives that you are. I am looking in to Medical Marijuana, which is legal here in PA. If it could help me get off of some of the drugs I would be happy! My heartfelt prayers are with you; I'm so very sorry about the loss of your husband.

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@marykaym63

Have you tried acupuncture for pain relief? I also use massage on a regular basis and find it helpful for pain control.

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Massage! I need to indulge myself more often. It DOES help! I had acupuncture gege!about 10 years ago for chronic headache, bit it didn't really do much….But massage! Thanks for the reminder!

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@marykaym63

Have you tried acupuncture for pain relief? I also use massage on a regular basis and find it helpful for pain control.

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Thank you marykaym63. I have not tried acupuncture but just may. Massage is like torture with the fibromyalgia. Reki may be an option. I will look into those. I’m thankful I don’t take narcotics for the pain.

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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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You sound almost exactly like me. At our age what life we have left is too precious to be feeling miserable for the last years with all kinds of treatments that may or may not help.

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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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I must agree. I am 68 and made the no-chemo choice. I completed radiation and am struggling with Arimidex, as I have arthritis which is worsening. I'm doing the best I can to live happily day to day. Quality of our time spent here on earth is so important.

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@grandma41

I believe most of the meds have these side effects, some are not as bad as others, but the side effects are enough to drive you nuts.  The hot flashes are absolutely horrible.  I never went through anything like this when I went through menopause.   
 

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I have been taking Tamoxifen Farmos 20mg for many months after my breast operation (meant for 5 years) no hair fall and feeling great – my Professor oncologist in Switzerland says this is the least toxic medicine on the market which reducies estrogen and this medicine has been doing the job for years with great success! Ask your doctor maybe in the USA the name is different. All the best Celia

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@grandma41

I believe most of the meds have these side effects, some are not as bad as others, but the side effects are enough to drive you nuts.  The hot flashes are absolutely horrible.  I never went through anything like this when I went through menopause.   
 

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Welcome to connect, @brianphilip. Thanks so much for sharing your insight. The US brand name for tamoxifen is Nolvadex or
Soltamox, https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/tamoxifen-oral-route/description/drg-20066208

This inaugural issue of Forefront, a Mayo Clinic publication, has some very interesting details about Tamoxifen, and highlights latest findings and ongoing research: http://mayocl.in/2Iu3Xse

I'm tagging @cindylb @kat9606 and @robynmar who've shared their experiences with tamoxifen, and they may have some more information, as well.

@brianphilip, we'd really like to get to know you; could you share a few more details? When were you diagnosed with breast cancer? Have you tried other treatment that also helped or perhaps didn't work?

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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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I’m on my 3rd AI – Letrozole, and I am have ngbthe least amount of joint pain over the other two. I am, however, having serious challenges with the tendons in my hands: trigger finger on one hand and now a thumb on the other. Overall, I’m determined to hang in there and I’m wearing splints, hand braces and doing hand exercises throughout the day. As they say, pick your poison.

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What is the mg. dose of Anastrozole that you were prescribed to take. ? I was given 1 mg. and wonder if that is the usual prescribed dose when first starting this drug. Seems like a very low dose ?

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