Mayo Clinic Connect
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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Hello Jeannie53 – I tried Taxomifen, Arimidex and Letrozole – so 3 of the 4 available. All of them made me really sick but then most drugs do (unfortunately). I was only a Stage 1 cancer so I was lucky that my doctors weren't too worried about recurrence (no guarantees however). I changed my diet (less sugar, carbs), increased exercise and lost 27 pounds (some of that weight was 'cheating' because I lost a lot of it due to my bi lateral mastectomy…..my body used lots of energy to heal. I concentrate on lowering my body fat because estrogen is produced some in your fat as well…….so less fat, less estrogen.
That's it………..I am just taking a chance that the cancer will recur because day to day I can't live with the side effects. The usual side effects are bad enough but the pills caused me to have severe depression, blood in my stools, and lowered my immune system so drastically (for whatever reason) I got shingles and mono in the period while I was taking them. I don't think that's 'usual' at all…….but I also can't tolerate most antibiotics (allergic) and some pain medications. I take no prescriptions at all at present because I'm the poster child for side effects. Sigh.
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What were your side effects on tamoxifen ? Were they different than the other two?
After everything I have heard about arimidex, I would not go on that one
That's the trouble… you only are hearing from those of us who are having trouble with it. Many more people have no trouble at all. The American Cancer Society (if memory serves) has a side-by-side comparison chart of the various AIs and their side effects. Interestingly, Arimidex (anastrozole) is reported to have the fewest side effects. In the end, it all depends on an individual's chemistry, fitness level, etc… some do better with one than another…. and trials-to-date appear to find that they help prevent recurrence.
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What was the total time that you were on the meds and how long has it been since you have stopped all of them. What you are doing is what I am considering because my quality of life is not what it should be. I'm also sensitive to drugs and only take migraine medicine when needed. I have never had to take any medication every day and this is a bitter pill to swallow–pun intended.
My oncologist has told me that the newest drug Letrozole has the fewest side effects. I want to know why the oncologists are not monitoring estrogen levels. I had to ask my gyno to take my blood. So, now my estrogen is zero. What is the number that is safe for estrogen and to not have a cancer reoccurence?
@gwinter, – Where was your pain? I'm having the worst pain I've ever experienced in my hip, upper leg and knee. I had an MRI yesterday and my stenosis has worsened and there is multilevel degenerative change. Now that said, I'm 74, and have had back issues for years (never knee) so Who knows if Arimidex has made the problem worse. I'm seeing my spine doctor on the 9th.
@sparklegram I hope you visit goes well. I, too, have severe stenosis in my lower spine and cervical spine as well as spina bifida of my coccyx and a few other yucky spine problems. Hoping that does not get any worse, but don't have high hopes as I already have osteoporosis of my spine and osteopenia of my hip and forearm. I'm supposed to have Zometa infusion, but cannot until my dental work is done and dentist clears me. He says because the Zometa (biphosph.) if started too soon, then the gum/roots will never heal. If it isn't one thing, it's another! I do take my Anastozole (Arimidex) just before going to sleep.
Someone mentioned Tumeric to me as well. I have a bottle on the way from amazon.
@francine6829 I take it in capsule form up to 3 times a day when the pain is the worst, otherwise once a day after a meal. Drink lots of water with it. Start off with 1 capsule and work your way up.
I feel like I was exactly where you are now. It's been nearly 4 years on Arimadex and no recurrence. I pushed through and stayed on the drug religiously. I forced myself to continue weight class and swim aerobics, figuring I couldn't hurt anymore than I already did. I think my body has quit fighting it, and the pain is gone. My advice is to stay with it. If got better for me, hopefully it will for you too. I love my pain free life again and treasure every day at 71!
@javajude Those were good words of advice and what I needed to hear. I just finally started walking again and our physical therapy department has a strength training class for woman who have had breast cancer treatment. I'm signed up starting next week. Trying to lose weight, but that's a slow process!
I have been on Letrozole for 7 weeks with wicked joint pain. My blood work taken yesterdays shows my estradiol levels at 0. Have any of you had your estradiol blood levels checked? AND as a result of those levels, has your oncologist changed/reduced your dosage of letrozole or any other AIs?
@francine6829 I found a chart on breastcancer.org: https://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/hormonal/comp_chart I have had headaches on anastrozole (Arimidex) but they are starting to subside a bit now as well as nausea. I do take the pill just before going to sleep so maybe that's helpful? But I haven't taken it in the morning so I don't know.
I have seen that chart before. I don't think its very accurate. I am glad the oncologist is letting me off the pill for 2 weeks. I need the break.
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I asked my oncologist about why blood levels of estrogen were not tested, and he said that the results were meaningless because it can change several times a day. As to recurrence… AIs are not guarantees… but they have proven to be extremely helpful in preventing recurrence because they block estrogen, and certain cancer cells need estrogen in order to grow. Exercise, losing weight, eating a healthy diet, giving up alcohol, etc. also are helpful in avoiding recurrence. HER2 status can increase recurrence. There are dozens of factors which contribute to risk. Unfortunately, this is not a zero sum game… it's more complex than anyone currently understands. One's oncologist can only give his/her best informed opinion of an individual's case.
Liked by Colleen Young, Connect Director, sparklegram
I have been off my anastrozole for a month. Side affects are lessening but it has taken awhile. K
When men get prostrate cancer, they check harmone levels. i don't think its meaningless to check. I have zero estrogen now. That is a number in which to judge the effectiveness of the medication. They need studies that demonstrate these pills are worth the side effects. – similar to the oncotype test where they can now test whether or not you would benefit from chemo, and thank goodness that test came back negative for me. One has to weigh their quality of life – this is not about hot flashes
How long were you on anastrozole?
I managed to do it for 2 years. Tired of feeling like an 80 year old at 60.
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