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?

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I had to stop both Letrozole and Arimidex because of side effects….and yes I had that pain in my wrists and fingers immediately. But I only took the drugs a total of 2 weeks each. I had depression and fatigue and blood in my stools…..that final side effect was the end for me. I also got Shingles twice, once on each med. Of course they don’t cause Shingles but they seemed to mess with my immune system in some odd way. I did lots of research on the drugs because I wanted to take them but couldn’t figure out a way. Every single one causes the joint pain in some people and the side effect of pain can go away or stay. It’s taking away your hormones and they support things like joint and bone health. I suppose the pain could come naturally with aging and just be there waiting to pop up, the drugs may simply accelerate that. My experience has been, so far, no recurrence of my breast cancer and also that I have virtually no estrogen (per my recent blood tests). My body just got rid of the estrogen on it’s own ….I have no idea why or how, although I’ve been careful with diet, lost 25 pounds (that estrogen was hiding in my fat I guess) and I have many of the side effects the drugs would cause (due to estrogen depletion). I don’t have joint pain however and no depression (other than thinking about cancer, which is just depressing). I was only a Stage 1 but the tricky lobular (not ductal) cancer. It’s hard to spot when it does recur so I may be living in a ‘fools paradise’, but unless it comes back I’m not going to take the drugs and then, of course, it may be too late. I felt too horrible on the drugs (I also tried Tamoxifen with Stage 0 cancer) and had bad side effects. The drugs really do work to beat down the cancer and recurrence but they also have side effects short and long term. It’s a tough decision for many of us. You want to do all you can to manage the cancer of course but who wants to feel awful for 5 years doing it, with possible long term consequences. I struggle with my decision every day.

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I have a question for those of you who have taken Anastrozole and are now finished (or quit early due to side effects). Did you find the side effects went away after you stopped taking the medication? In particular, I’m questioning the weight gain, the hair thinning and the achy, stiff joints. I also get a shot of Prolia twice a year for osteoporosis so I don’t know if that will impact the results. I have been on the Anastrozole for twenty months.

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Happy New Year to all! I don’t know if I posted this yet but I was unable to take the meds due to side effects and this past August I had my 2 year checkup and my oncologist, at my request, checked my Estrogen levels via blood test. I was worried about my estrogen levels due to estrogen positive breast cancer and my inability to tolerate the meds….and I had virtually NO ESTROGEN. I do have many of the side effects the drugs would cause and found that interesting because I have not taken the drugs….I have hair loss, some achy joints, some weight gain, etc……those side effects (for me) were due to the lack of estrogen. I’m sure the drugs amplify that process. It’s something you might request of your doctor if you can’t take the drugs…a test to see where your hormone levels are?? I was very relieved and pleased to find that my hormone levels dropped on their own and that reduces my risk of recurrence somewhat…without the use of the meds.

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@leemiller

I’ve been taking anastrozole for almost a year, and am cautiously thinking the side effects have been minimal. My main concern is its contribution to my osteoporosis. I have been seeing an OT to learn how to increase bone mass.

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Did your doctor put you on a bone building drug?

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Of course, side effects are stated in the literature, but how you respond is to be seen. It was a very slow, sneaky drug that crept up on you and the symptoms truly began in the 3rd month. It is important to understand that you won’t know fully how they’ll impact you until you’ve been on the drug for 6 months, wherein you know how you’ll tolerate it. For the most part, I had difficulty with joint pain, particularly in my wrists and hands/fingers, including numbness and weakness. After 6 months, I transitioned to Aromasin for 6 months, experiencing the same side effects and have been off for almost 3 weeks. I will resume AI therapy and start Letrozole and hope to be able to tolerate it for 4 additional years.
I never experienced hair loss.
Afterthought: In the first 3 months of taking Anastrozole, I felt body pain, very old and fatigued. The joint pain persisted in my hands & wrists and the full- body pain wained, but the fatigue continued with either drug. I can now drink coffee without any struggle and have NO problems sleeping. Woo Hoo!!!!
Wishing you good health and every success!

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@leannz

I have a question for those of you who have taken Anastrozole and are now finished (or quit early due to side effects). Did you find the side effects went away after you stopped taking the medication? In particular, I’m questioning the weight gain, the hair thinning and the achy, stiff joints. I also get a shot of Prolia twice a year for osteoporosis so I don’t know if that will impact the results. I have been on the Anastrozole for twenty months.

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I started Anastrozole last Feb and switched to Exemestane in Dec due to joint pain. I still have the pain in my elbow and both wrists – maybe arthritis was always there and these have made it worse (I’m 75). I don’t know what my estrogen levels are but am on Prolia every 6 months due to bone thinning. I guess it’s just a matter of what helps one problem may make another worse.Also, my hair was always thin but now it’s REALLY thin and that seems to go along with it all.

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@shenriq

Of course, side effects are stated in the literature, but how you respond is to be seen. It was a very slow, sneaky drug that crept up on you and the symptoms truly began in the 3rd month. It is important to understand that you won’t know fully how they’ll impact you until you’ve been on the drug for 6 months, wherein you know how you’ll tolerate it. For the most part, I had difficulty with joint pain, particularly in my wrists and hands/fingers, including numbness and weakness. After 6 months, I transitioned to Aromasin for 6 months, experiencing the same side effects and have been off for almost 3 weeks. I will resume AI therapy and start Letrozole and hope to be able to tolerate it for 4 additional years.
I never experienced hair loss.
Afterthought: In the first 3 months of taking Anastrozole, I felt body pain, very old and fatigued. The joint pain persisted in my hands & wrists and the full- body pain wained, but the fatigue continued with either drug. I can now drink coffee without any struggle and have NO problems sleeping. Woo Hoo!!!!
Wishing you good health and every success!

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I’m wondering how you’re doing nearly a year later – I’ve switched to Exemastane due to the joint pain (elbow & wrists) and general bone aches. The aching has stopped but the joint damage/pain seems permanent. As I understand it, the side effects are very similar with the two drugs.

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@shenriq

Of course, side effects are stated in the literature, but how you respond is to be seen. It was a very slow, sneaky drug that crept up on you and the symptoms truly began in the 3rd month. It is important to understand that you won’t know fully how they’ll impact you until you’ve been on the drug for 6 months, wherein you know how you’ll tolerate it. For the most part, I had difficulty with joint pain, particularly in my wrists and hands/fingers, including numbness and weakness. After 6 months, I transitioned to Aromasin for 6 months, experiencing the same side effects and have been off for almost 3 weeks. I will resume AI therapy and start Letrozole and hope to be able to tolerate it for 4 additional years.
I never experienced hair loss.
Afterthought: In the first 3 months of taking Anastrozole, I felt body pain, very old and fatigued. The joint pain persisted in my hands & wrists and the full- body pain wained, but the fatigue continued with either drug. I can now drink coffee without any struggle and have NO problems sleeping. Woo Hoo!!!!
Wishing you good health and every success!

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I’m hanging in there, but continue to be challenged. Having taken Anastrozole and Aromasin— each fir 6 months, I stopped all for now 3 weeks, trying to regain “normalcy” with my hands & wrists. While slightly improved, like you, I’m not sure that’s achievable.
I’m starting letrezole/femara next week – my last option because tamoxifen isn’t an option for me. I am hopeful that the side effects are less problematic, given the desire to continue the meds for 4 more years.
Let’s keep talking.

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@leemiller

I’ve been taking anastrozole for almost a year, and am cautiously thinking the side effects have been minimal. My main concern is its contribution to my osteoporosis. I have been seeing an OT to learn how to increase bone mass.

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Welcome to Connect, @bmerxbauer. Have you experience bone loss with anastrozole?

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@leemiller

I’ve been taking anastrozole for almost a year, and am cautiously thinking the side effects have been minimal. My main concern is its contribution to my osteoporosis. I have been seeing an OT to learn how to increase bone mass.

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I have just been prescribed this medicine. I understand one of the side effects can be bone loss. Just wondered what other people are doing or using to help with this problem.

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