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?

@berit

Yep. I’m going on my 3rd year. I tried other estrogen blockers but this one had the side effects that were most tolerable. Rather than hair loss I would call it hair thinning. I find that my scalp is more visible than it used to be. I take eye shadow in a shade that matches my hair and dab in on my scalp along my part line. Presto chango! Thinning hair no longer noticeable. Very easy fix. Cheap eye shadow works just fine.

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Understood. Thank you for staying with the group. Your messages are much appreciated.

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@colleenyoung

Hi @wandering, please meet @berit. She just joined the Breast Cancer group.

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Hi wandering,
I wasn’t sure if your post was directed to me or not but I thought I would respond anyway. Boy have you been through the ringer! Amazing how the fun never stops, isn’t it? It’s not easy to strike a balance between empathy and optimism. i don’t want to hear about people who have died either. On the other hand, people who tell me how important it is to have a “positive attitude” piss me off too. I feel like, gee whiz, not only do I have cancer, I have to be HAPPY too??? I’m left feeling that if a succumb to a moment of depression it’s my fault if my cancer comes back. What a burden to dump on someone who already has plenty of them!

We have what could turn out to be a terminal illness. There is not one of us who doesn’t know that. We don’t need to be reminded of it. On the other hand, I resent people who tell me “everything will be fine” based on nothing. Only God knows (and by God I mean the real deal, not our oncologists) how this will all turn out and He is not sharing the information. So I also don’t want to hear from people who belittle my perfectly reasonable fear and occasional panic.

That’s why I joined this group. If you are not living with it you just don’t know what it is like. Plus, I’ve found that women who have not had cancer just don’t want to hear what we are going through. i understand that, but it is isolating all the same. That’s why this group is so great. Kindred souls.

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@susanao1

I have taken Femara and then Arimidex for 4.5 years. Side effects include bone aches and pains, bone deterioration and hair thinning. You need to have regular bone density scans and consider taking Calcium/Vitamin D supplement to counter bone deterioration. Oncologists seem more concerned about preventing cancer returning and less so about the side effects. My bone pain became so debilitating I have come off the drugs 6 months earlier than anticipated. In just three weeks bone pain has eased, I’m waiting to see if my hair thickens up again.

One has to be vigilant that the drugs one is taking are not posing another threat to one’s health and well being in the longer term.

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Hadn’t heard about shampoo with biotene – thanks for the heads up. I’ve been hiding my widening part w/ eye shadow which works fine but I already had fine hair so anything that can make it thicker is all to the good. If it helps nails, even better. I had given up that fight and switched to acrylics. They look VERY nice, but I wouldn’t miss not spending the money.

I’m hoping very hard that the new meds work for you. Keep us updated, please.

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Are you a “stand up” comedian? Got some chuckles from this post. I think I have different outlook. We are all going to die from something. Now I have a pretty good idea what that is – just not when (when we run out of money?). We know the enemy and we have some people who are working on the battle with us – medical support, new meds, family, friends, people on this post, and for me most of all my spouse. My father died of heart disease at age 53 and I always thought that would happen for me. I am well past that age. Always wondered what I would do with my time when I retired – now I know – doctors appointments, labs, etc. How well, keeps me out of the bars (ha, ha).

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@wandering

Are you a “stand up” comedian? Got some chuckles from this post. I think I have different outlook. We are all going to die from something. Now I have a pretty good idea what that is – just not when (when we run out of money?). We know the enemy and we have some people who are working on the battle with us – medical support, new meds, family, friends, people on this post, and for me most of all my spouse. My father died of heart disease at age 53 and I always thought that would happen for me. I am well past that age. Always wondered what I would do with my time when I retired – now I know – doctors appointments, labs, etc. How well, keeps me out of the bars (ha, ha).

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Not sure what you thought the funny part was . . . But it’s always better to laugh than cry. Very glad to hear you have lots of support, especially a caring spouse. I lost mine very unexpectedly right after I finished my chemo tx. I went through the second cancer without him. It’s been a tough 10 years, but I’m still here.

Best of luck to you. Sounds like you have a good team.

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Hi . Is my first time. Hello everyone. I was diagnosed with breast cancer stage 1. After 10 radiation, 17 chemo 12 Herceptin But I’m here.
Have to take Anastrazole for 10 years I just start it.
A lot pain all over, legs, back , shoulder hands, everywhere. After I finish the chemo hair start growing. Beautiful. After I start Anaztrazole my hair become extremely thin .
Is anyone has the experience

Thanks

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I took Anastrozole for 3 years along with Arimodex. (No bad side effects but quit working so my doctor put me on a different medication.) My hair did seem to thin somewhat. I was not sure if it was the meds, old age or heredity. My sister started taking some over the counter pills which thickened her hair. Since I am taking meds for my Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer I did not want to “muddy the waters”. I went to my local health food store and started using a shampoo that contains bioten. The brand I use is Avalon Organics because we have detoxed our house and use only organic products when possible. It took many months for my hair to stop falling out and thicken (at least 6 months). Side benefit: my fingernails are stronger and thicker than ever. I think that’s from using the shampoo – not sure but — As an aside, the medication manufacturer sometimes will help you pay for the meds if you don’t have insurance. I started taking those before we were on Plan D. The pharmacy at the hospital furnished the manufacturer with my tax return and they mailed my a 3 month supply (worth about $350) free of charge. This carried me til we got Plan D. Hope this helps – best of luck.

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@coquimti

Hi . Is my first time. Hello everyone. I was diagnosed with breast cancer stage 1. After 10 radiation, 17 chemo 12 Herceptin But I’m here.
Have to take Anastrazole for 10 years I just start it.
A lot pain all over, legs, back , shoulder hands, everywhere. After I finish the chemo hair start growing. Beautiful. After I start Anaztrazole my hair become extremely thin .
Is anyone has the experience

Thanks

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Yes, the side effects you mention from anastrozole were the same for me. I was diagnosed a year and a half ago. I have since switched to letrozole, with much fewer aches and pains. Unfortunately my hair is still thinning and breaking. Every body is different, but I’d see if you could switch meds…life is too short!

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@coquimti

Hi . Is my first time. Hello everyone. I was diagnosed with breast cancer stage 1. After 10 radiation, 17 chemo 12 Herceptin But I’m here.
Have to take Anastrazole for 10 years I just start it.
A lot pain all over, legs, back , shoulder hands, everywhere. After I finish the chemo hair start growing. Beautiful. After I start Anaztrazole my hair become extremely thin .
Is anyone has the experience

Thanks

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I assume you are taking anastrazole b/c you need an estrogen blocker. There are other estrogen blockers that might have fewer side effects for you. I’m taking it b/c for me it had the fewest side effects – and yes it is thinning my hair, but that is better than the severe joint and muscle pain that the other 3 blockers I tried caused me. I agree w/ cautious. Talk to your doc about trying something else. As she said, everyone is different and one of the other blockers might work better for you. Ten years of the pain you are describing PLUS thinning hair sounds a little over the top to me. Nothing else you try is going to make you feel WORSE than you already do, so there is no downside to trying something else. Good luck.

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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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Im on anastrazole for 13 month . I just realize that my hair is getting thinner. Having the same concern like you.
Wondering if im going the be bold

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On Feb 2, 2016 I was diagnosed with IDC, Mucinous type. I had 2 separate tumors in the right breast. I elected for bilateral mastectomy with natural reconstruction, a tough but very satisfying route. I was then prescribed Arimidex. I took it for about 4 months and had multiple side effects that were intolerable: severe insomnia, severe mood swings, depression to mention a few. As a result, I was prescribed sleeping pills and anti-depressants. I finally said this is crazy and my oncologist took me off the Arimidex and put me on Femora. I also stopped the antidepressants and sleeping pills! I took 2 Femora pills, 1 each day, and had the worst diarrhea I have ever had in my life that lasted a week with stomach upset for a month. That ended that. I am now on Aromasin. I started with 1/2 tablet for a month. I will now add a whole tablet every other day for a month. Pending my reaction, I will then move to the prescribed daily pill, taken in the AM with a full breakfast. If this does not work, I will go back to 1/2 tablet and stay on that for 5 years!

I am very concerned about several things. First, the protocol is for women to take the prescribed dose-1 tablet on any of the three aromatase inhibitors daily for 5 years. It does not take into account if you are 5’2″ or 6’2″ tall. It does not take into account if you are 120 lbs or 350 lbs. It does not take into account if you are Caucasian, African American, Asian, Native American or from Mars. It does not take into account if you are 25, 55, or 75. It is a one size fits all protocol and my oncologist is not very sympathetic about me altering the dose.

I am one of the most blessed women alive. I did not have to have chemo or radiation. I could have had a double lumpectomy as my breast surgeon said given what I have and my age, (slow growing, rare-2%, that strikes women 68-72 usually BRCA negative), with radiation and be fine. I could have had the right breast removed and left it at that. I was quite large breasted so didn’t like that option. I had 2 breast biopsies a week apart, a third biopsy the next week on my hip (negative for anything) and a sentinel node biopsy the forth week. I was done. I elected to have bilateral mastectomy as I knew I was never going through this again. If anyone is interested in knowing what “natural reconstruction” is, I am willing to tell you.

My whole point is that these protocols need to be worked out with your medical team and you need to be in charge of our own health. I found an exceptional book that helped me through my decision making and can’t imagine doing this without it. It empowered me to decide and keep deciding based on my body and how I physically reacted to all of this.

Blessings to you all on this horrible psychedelic trip God is good and is holding my hand every step of the way.

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I’ve just now found this group and have joined. I am one year into my ‘adventure’ with breast cancer (lobular stage 1). I chose a bi lateral mastectomy and luckily my cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes. I thought I would be ‘done’, given my aggressive choice to remove my breasts and felt lucky I had caught it fairly early, but my oncologists say I should use the follow up drugs. I have tried both Letrozole and Arimidex so far and both have made me very ill. Of course I don’t want the cancer back (I have a 15% chance, which is pretty low) but I also find it impossible to tolerate these drugs. My side effects have ranged from severe depression, joint pain, blood in my stools and Shingles (twice….on my butt of all places, ouch). I am considering trying the Letrozole again but I’m having a hard time facing the side effects. I have hormone difficulties and have my whole life. These drugs just seem to throw me back into the horrors I experienced with menopause and more. I’m happy to have found a support group (that’s a big missing piece for me in my recovery) and hope someone might have some similar experiences or thoughts on how I can reconcile two seemingly bad options as I move forward?

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I was on Arimedex for 2-1/2 years with virtually no side effects. I have metastatic breast cancer so much different from you. No longer on the drug since it quit working for me. Two and a half years on the drug is considered a pretty good run. Best luck with your treatment. Your doctor will probably have other “bullets” so keep on working on it and you will surely come up with something that works both for you and your cancer.

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Thank you for your reply and encouragement! I’m so sorry your cancer is as advanced as it is. It’s been hard to have the level I have and I can’t imagine your journey. Glad to have found support and hope I’ll be able to return the kindness.

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Thanks. Even though I have Stage IV cancer, I feel really fortunate. I have great support from my spouse, good doctors and feel pretty good most days. I have lived most of my life (I’m 72) and I have a great deal of compassion for the young women who have this incurable disease and young families. I really don’t know how they cope. Anyway, onward and upward!

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