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?

Welcome to Connect, @eljayem.
According to this description of anastorzole at Cancer Research UK “tiredness or fatigue happens in up to 2 out of 10 women (20%)”. Read more at http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancers-in-general/treatment/cancer-drugs/anastrozole

Cancer fatigue can be caused by many contributing factors. While you may not of experienced fatigue from surgery, chemo and radiation, I wonder if this is a late side effect from all the treatments compounded by anastrozole. Heck, you’ve just been through the wringer! Post active treatment is a challenging adjustment. Have you considered that post-treatment might be a contributor?

I’m interested in hearing what @floramart @grandma41 @cautiousoptimism @susanao1 @teege1 @leemiller and others who have been there have to say from their experience.

eljayem – have you tried taking the medication at night time?

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Thanks for your reply! Perhaps I am one of the 20%, or it’s the cumulative effects of treatment. I am just having a hard time accepting that nothing can be done about it, I thought I would slowly and steadily regain my stamina after treatment but instead it has gotten worse. I do take the anastrozole in the evening now and it really doesn’t seem any different than when I took it in the morning, it has no effect on my sleep which has never been great.

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I’m not aware of problematic side effects after a little over a year on anastrozole, except my last DEXA showed a bit more loss of bone mass in my spine. My hair is back, post chemo, sleeping okay, joint pain is from arthritic knees, pain linked to hip weakness. The anastrozole is giving me so little trouble my oncologist is reluctant to try anything else, even with the osteoporosis.

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I found it took at least 12 months after surgery, chemo and radiation to get close to my old energy back, and this included my taking the oestrogen blocker Femara. I mentioned earlier that side effects I experienced were bone aches, deterioration in my bone density and my hair returned in a much thinner form. After three years on Femara I asked what other options there were and tried a different drug Arimidex. This suited me better for a while but at the 4.5 year mark I have gone off everything as the bone pain became debilitating. I am close to the end of the treatment cycle, which has allowed this – I feel calmer, less bone pain, am sleeping better and my hair seems to be thickening.
My suggestion is to try another brand,as mentioned in earlier post, keep an eye on your bone density.

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Just checking in @eljayem. Any changes in your fatigue level? Did you talk to your oncologist about possibly switching to a different aromatase inhibitor?

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@colleenyoung

Just checking in @eljayem. Any changes in your fatigue level? Did you talk to your oncologist about possibly switching to a different aromatase inhibitor?

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No change, my oncologist does not believe the fatigue is related to Arimidex. I did go off it for 2 weeks and there was no change. Thanks for your concern.

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I am also going to have the reconstruction using my abdominal fatty tissue. Do you have any recommendations for before or after surgery that helped you through this?

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Hi @kbare13,
Welcome. Great questions about preparing for reconstruction surgery. There are a couple of other discussions about breast reconstruction where you’ll meet members like @survivor1 @teege1 @grandma41 and others talking about reconstruction.

Types of breast reconstruction: How to choose? http://mayocl.in/2bFPM7a
Chose not to get breast reconstruction http://mayocl.in/2bD2oKH

Kbare, did you exercise after mastectomy? What things helped you recover from that surgery?

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@colleenyoung

Just checking in @eljayem. Any changes in your fatigue level? Did you talk to your oncologist about possibly switching to a different aromatase inhibitor?

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I hope in time your fatigue diminishes and your energy levels return. As Susan said, it took 12 months for her energy to return. Keep us posted.

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@kbare13

I am also going to have the reconstruction using my abdominal fatty tissue. Do you have any recommendations for before or after surgery that helped you through this?

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Hi Kbare13, I had total reconstruction with out the abdominal fatty tissue because of the time down after. I was not given exercises but did it on my own. I went for physical therapy to work with bands and learning strength exercises. The emotional part is what I did and still do struggle with. Knowing that you are going to be somewhat whole again made me feel better and I focused on the end result. I had a fantastic plastic surgeon and I love the new girls. I did opt for having nipples so that was my last surgery. Your plastic surgeon should tell you lot’s of protein to repair muscles. Stay positive and do exactly what they tell you.
Good luck and prayers
Suzi

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I have Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. I was on Arimidex (Anastrozole) for three years. My oncologist took me off two months ago when my tumor markers shot up. I started on Faslodex (monthly shot) and came off the anastrozole at that time. I also get a shot of Xgeva every three months to keep my bones healthy. I also take a Vitamin D pill daily and a Tums (high in calcium. My only side effect has been some thinning of my hair. I started washing my hair in a shampoo formulated to help thicken hair (readily available on the internet and/or your health food store) and I feel that it has worked. I takes quite a long time to see improvement using the shampoo but I feel like it is working. Positive thoughts and prayers to all of you out there who are fighting the good fight. I know the survival rate for my cancer is not good (20% after 5 years) but someone has to make it to the 20%. Fight on!!!

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@maureenkarras

I have taken all of the aromatase inhibitors including tamoxifen. My understanding, from every expert I have talked with, is that these drugs, including the one you have been Prescribed, are a critical part of your treatment. There are side effects and everyone reacts differently. For me it was joint pain and skin issues – I’m still struggling with both. The thing you have to weigh is the cancer. I’m assuming that you want to do everything possible to prevent reoccurance. I felt like I couldn’t manage the skin issues without getting off the drugs. I started, stopped, switched and tried again – repeatedly. I never completed the entire recommended 5 years. But, I wish I could have. For me the fear of reoccurance seems to still loom large. I had a scare and biopsy last spring. I guess if you trust your oncologist I would listen carefully to his/her recommendation. Wishing you the best and a future cancer free. Maureen

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Hi @floramart. How are you doing? Are you still experiencing the hive-like welts and itchy rash on the skin where you got radiation?

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