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?

@cindylb

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3874410/
Samy – You got me curious about this……….I'm not sure the link above will work. I'm not very good at links and such but this is an article on the NCBI-NIH (National Institutes of Health) website.
I looked at several articles. They are written in medical language and it takes a while to plow through them but…this one references 'older breast cancer patients' and treatment options, including AI's. There are several studies listed on the difference between Lobular and Ductal and AI effectiveness and 'the older' patient ………I think we're all 'older', ha ha….but it does address some of our concerns.
If you can't get to the article, Google or Websearch, effectiveness of AI's in early stage or Stage 1 cancer. I found lots of studies.
The upshot I got was this………..the AI's work but side effects and compliance by older patients are a strong consideration and Lobular really is different than Ductal and is just now being treated as such.
Hugs………..

Jump to this post

This is very interesting article – but written in 2013. I wonder if they have any more recent data – I'll ask my oncologist. But I don't see her until July.

Liked by samy

REPLY
@cindylb

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3874410/
Samy – You got me curious about this……….I'm not sure the link above will work. I'm not very good at links and such but this is an article on the NCBI-NIH (National Institutes of Health) website.
I looked at several articles. They are written in medical language and it takes a while to plow through them but…this one references 'older breast cancer patients' and treatment options, including AI's. There are several studies listed on the difference between Lobular and Ductal and AI effectiveness and 'the older' patient ………I think we're all 'older', ha ha….but it does address some of our concerns.
If you can't get to the article, Google or Websearch, effectiveness of AI's in early stage or Stage 1 cancer. I found lots of studies.
The upshot I got was this………..the AI's work but side effects and compliance by older patients are a strong consideration and Lobular really is different than Ductal and is just now being treated as such.
Hugs………..

Jump to this post

That article about "Early breast cancer in the older woman" is a good find, @cindylb. Note that it is from 2012, @samy, but it is a great place to start making lists of questions for your oncologist. I did some digging around as well and found these 2017 articles.
– Aromatase inhibitors for early-stage breast cancer https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK447104/
– Aromatase inhibitors in the extended treatment of early-stage breast cancer https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK447116/
– Aromatase inhibitors as upfront therapy for early-stage breast cancer https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK447121/

@monical, you raise some valid concerns. When your doctor prescribed anastrozole for you, did you have time to tell her about your concerns or are they coming up now as you learn more about possible side effects? Maybe it would be a good idea to schedule an appointment to get your concerns addressed before starting.

Liked by cindylb, samy

REPLY
@colleenyoung

That article about "Early breast cancer in the older woman" is a good find, @cindylb. Note that it is from 2012, @samy, but it is a great place to start making lists of questions for your oncologist. I did some digging around as well and found these 2017 articles.
– Aromatase inhibitors for early-stage breast cancer https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK447104/
– Aromatase inhibitors in the extended treatment of early-stage breast cancer https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK447116/
– Aromatase inhibitors as upfront therapy for early-stage breast cancer https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK447121/

@monical, you raise some valid concerns. When your doctor prescribed anastrozole for you, did you have time to tell her about your concerns or are they coming up now as you learn more about possible side effects? Maybe it would be a good idea to schedule an appointment to get your concerns addressed before starting.

Jump to this post

Thanks for the links. Wish they were age-specific, they’re not. But, you’re right, I have questions – basically only one question, really. Are AI drugs worth taking at my age? It’s not complicated question, it’s a quality of life “yes or no” issue for me. The idea of being debilitated with pain because of these meds until age 74 is not acceptable. I’ve a history of many sinus infections, sinus surgery that caused a stroke and hemianopsia, high BP and heart palpitations, both successfully treated with meds. I just don’t want to make life worse, it’s not worth it to me. From what I’ve read, some are unfortunate enough to have horrible symptoms linger after stopping the drug. I just don’t want to play.

REPLY
@samy

Thanks for the links. Wish they were age-specific, they’re not. But, you’re right, I have questions – basically only one question, really. Are AI drugs worth taking at my age? It’s not complicated question, it’s a quality of life “yes or no” issue for me. The idea of being debilitated with pain because of these meds until age 74 is not acceptable. I’ve a history of many sinus infections, sinus surgery that caused a stroke and hemianopsia, high BP and heart palpitations, both successfully treated with meds. I just don’t want to make life worse, it’s not worth it to me. From what I’ve read, some are unfortunate enough to have horrible symptoms linger after stopping the drug. I just don’t want to play.

Jump to this post

samy……….you are weighing your options well. Talk with your doctors about your feelings and also your existing medical conditions. My current oncologist knows I wasn't keen on the drugs but when so many side effects hit me with 3 out of 4 options…..he has been supportive and understanding that I don't want to live like that.
To put that in perspective a little – my husband was diagnosed with cancer 15 months ago At the time of diagnosis and until today, they know the cancer is in his lung and nearby lymph node and was found through a CT scan for his COPD. Here's the hard part…….they don't even know what type of cancer it is!! Yup, not consistent in any of the many tests, scans and the many genomic and pathological studies to be a certain cancer. They told him he would be dead in 12 months max. He's still here. In addition, the only treatment they can offer is chemo, but multiple types of chemo – because they don't know what kind of cancer it is. They took surgery, radiation, SBRT radiation and all targeted and immumotherapy off the table for him early on. They just offered every massive type of chemo they could find. He declined. He is using medical marijuana only and although he isn't well generally……..he is not dead (thank goodness) and his tumor has shrunk over the last 12 months and his cancer activity in his blood is up, but only slightly. My point is this………he could have done what not one but three doctors suggested and had all that chemo and the side effects months ago and been sick all this time. Perhaps the cancer would be gone, but perhaps not. Sometimes doctors can only offer what they have and what they know. But what they don't know……..whether it will work for any specific individual. The ultimate decision is the patients and that's tough on us. For my husband, doing nothing and waiting has been the right decision …..so far….it might not be down the road, but for now, he wasn't willing to be ill the last year of his life (which is now, NOT the last year of his life). If you feel strongly that you don't want these drugs, do all you can to be well and make sure your doctors keep a close eye on you for recurrence.
Hugs!

REPLY
@colleenyoung

That article about "Early breast cancer in the older woman" is a good find, @cindylb. Note that it is from 2012, @samy, but it is a great place to start making lists of questions for your oncologist. I did some digging around as well and found these 2017 articles.
– Aromatase inhibitors for early-stage breast cancer https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK447104/
– Aromatase inhibitors in the extended treatment of early-stage breast cancer https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK447116/
– Aromatase inhibitors as upfront therapy for early-stage breast cancer https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK447121/

@monical, you raise some valid concerns. When your doctor prescribed anastrozole for you, did you have time to tell her about your concerns or are they coming up now as you learn more about possible side effects? Maybe it would be a good idea to schedule an appointment to get your concerns addressed before starting.

Jump to this post

Colleen, Can you find articles or studies on any of the following topics:
–reoccurence percentages for postmenopausal women taking AIs vs taking tamoxifen/
–side effects of the steroid in Aromosin and its effectiveness compared to other AIs
Thank you.
Francine

REPLY
@francine6829

Colleen, Can you find articles or studies on any of the following topics:
–reoccurence percentages for postmenopausal women taking AIs vs taking tamoxifen/
–side effects of the steroid in Aromosin and its effectiveness compared to other AIs
Thank you.
Francine

Jump to this post

I would really appreciate this insight too as I am starting anastrozole. Just scared of the side affects but have been told it will be highly beneficial for me!😌

Liked by samy

REPLY

Well, all, off to second opinion medical oncologist today. I read and read articles your comments and I want to know! I want to know why no hormone blood tests, no mri, and no discussion about possibility of not doing AIs.
I question it because of the stage of my cancer 1a, the additives doctors want to each of the meds, the side effects, and I followed orders why does my percentage go up????
It gets very disheartening having to be my own advocate, but reading through doctor notes again I would be on AI for 10 years! I am almost 65, retired, just starting to travel, and have 4 young grandsons…quality of life has to be in there, too.
Thank you for all your posts and realistic open opinions.
With appts every 6 months for the next few years hope to catch anything if there is a recurrence anywhere.

Liked by cindylb

REPLY
@cindylb

samy……….you are weighing your options well. Talk with your doctors about your feelings and also your existing medical conditions. My current oncologist knows I wasn't keen on the drugs but when so many side effects hit me with 3 out of 4 options…..he has been supportive and understanding that I don't want to live like that.
To put that in perspective a little – my husband was diagnosed with cancer 15 months ago At the time of diagnosis and until today, they know the cancer is in his lung and nearby lymph node and was found through a CT scan for his COPD. Here's the hard part…….they don't even know what type of cancer it is!! Yup, not consistent in any of the many tests, scans and the many genomic and pathological studies to be a certain cancer. They told him he would be dead in 12 months max. He's still here. In addition, the only treatment they can offer is chemo, but multiple types of chemo – because they don't know what kind of cancer it is. They took surgery, radiation, SBRT radiation and all targeted and immumotherapy off the table for him early on. They just offered every massive type of chemo they could find. He declined. He is using medical marijuana only and although he isn't well generally……..he is not dead (thank goodness) and his tumor has shrunk over the last 12 months and his cancer activity in his blood is up, but only slightly. My point is this………he could have done what not one but three doctors suggested and had all that chemo and the side effects months ago and been sick all this time. Perhaps the cancer would be gone, but perhaps not. Sometimes doctors can only offer what they have and what they know. But what they don't know……..whether it will work for any specific individual. The ultimate decision is the patients and that's tough on us. For my husband, doing nothing and waiting has been the right decision …..so far….it might not be down the road, but for now, he wasn't willing to be ill the last year of his life (which is now, NOT the last year of his life). If you feel strongly that you don't want these drugs, do all you can to be well and make sure your doctors keep a close eye on you for recurrence.
Hugs!

Jump to this post

@cindylb
Cindy – For your husband, ask your oncologist if the pathologists did not do the right staining for neuroendocrine tumor of the lung, may I suggest they relook at it? My second lesion in my breast was noted to be just that. It is a very rare cancer that cannot be eradicated, but can be maintained. It can go to lung, brain, bone, etc. It is followed by PET scans – for me it is every 6 months. I am not trying to scare you, but to offer this suggestion due to it's rarity since they have not put a name on it. I was told that it would be treated with the same type of chemo that they treat oat cell ca of the lung with. I have had 3 different pathologists go over mine and was presented again at the Tumor Board at my medical facility. They all agreed that my neuroendocrine was differentiation and they felt it was removed but will need the follow up. Please let us all know how he does.

Liked by cindylb, sparklegram

REPLY
@gwinter

Well, all, off to second opinion medical oncologist today. I read and read articles your comments and I want to know! I want to know why no hormone blood tests, no mri, and no discussion about possibility of not doing AIs.
I question it because of the stage of my cancer 1a, the additives doctors want to each of the meds, the side effects, and I followed orders why does my percentage go up????
It gets very disheartening having to be my own advocate, but reading through doctor notes again I would be on AI for 10 years! I am almost 65, retired, just starting to travel, and have 4 young grandsons…quality of life has to be in there, too.
Thank you for all your posts and realistic open opinions.
With appts every 6 months for the next few years hope to catch anything if there is a recurrence anywhere.

Jump to this post

@gwinter
I did ask for an MRI. I told my breast surgeon I was worried about my unaffected breast and could we do an MRI. She said yes, that would be acceptable. Thank goodness I did. There was found a second lesion in my affected breast which showed neuroendocrine differentiation. Had I not had that MRI, I would have just had the first lumpectomy and then there would have been more cancer of a more aggressive type. So talk with your oncologist and insist this be done for your own future health!

REPLY
@trixie1313

@cindylb
Cindy – For your husband, ask your oncologist if the pathologists did not do the right staining for neuroendocrine tumor of the lung, may I suggest they relook at it? My second lesion in my breast was noted to be just that. It is a very rare cancer that cannot be eradicated, but can be maintained. It can go to lung, brain, bone, etc. It is followed by PET scans – for me it is every 6 months. I am not trying to scare you, but to offer this suggestion due to it's rarity since they have not put a name on it. I was told that it would be treated with the same type of chemo that they treat oat cell ca of the lung with. I have had 3 different pathologists go over mine and was presented again at the Tumor Board at my medical facility. They all agreed that my neuroendocrine was differentiation and they felt it was removed but will need the follow up. Please let us all know how he does.

Jump to this post

Hello trixie1313 and thank you for sharing your information with me. Alas, we have had the most complete pathology available done to the tumor tissue and gotten second opinions and…..we've done it all. There is a chance it is enteric adeonocarcinoma of the lung, a lung cancer that they say is 'rare' but looks more to me like it's just under diagnosed. We've been watching and waiting for over a year now for the cancer to show up somewhere else (in the upper GI tract) to rule out those type of cancers and it has not. So, they are leaning toward this supposed 'rare' type of lung cancer. They even sent the tumor out for the most extensive type of cancer as the doctors are frustrated as well.
It is not common but sometimes cancers appear and then actually regress or go away and we never knew we had them. This was caught purely through a test for something else. At the time it was diagnosed my husband was in bad shape and feeling truly awful, so he presented as a very ill man. His symptoms were from a heart condition however that was easily fixed. Now he has no symptoms of any kind of cancer and has not this whole time. It's truly odd.
I am going to look into neuroendocrine tumor of the lung and the oat cell ca of the lung as well.

Thank you! Hugs!!

Liked by trixie1313

REPLY
@cindylb

Hello trixie1313 and thank you for sharing your information with me. Alas, we have had the most complete pathology available done to the tumor tissue and gotten second opinions and…..we've done it all. There is a chance it is enteric adeonocarcinoma of the lung, a lung cancer that they say is 'rare' but looks more to me like it's just under diagnosed. We've been watching and waiting for over a year now for the cancer to show up somewhere else (in the upper GI tract) to rule out those type of cancers and it has not. So, they are leaning toward this supposed 'rare' type of lung cancer. They even sent the tumor out for the most extensive type of cancer as the doctors are frustrated as well.
It is not common but sometimes cancers appear and then actually regress or go away and we never knew we had them. This was caught purely through a test for something else. At the time it was diagnosed my husband was in bad shape and feeling truly awful, so he presented as a very ill man. His symptoms were from a heart condition however that was easily fixed. Now he has no symptoms of any kind of cancer and has not this whole time. It's truly odd.
I am going to look into neuroendocrine tumor of the lung and the oat cell ca of the lung as well.

Thank you! Hugs!!

Jump to this post

@cindylb
Cindy, I'm hopeful for you both. The NET is treated like an oat cell ca. NET is a wait and see-type of cancer. It is found by the type of staining on pathology slides and is missed many times because pathologists don't always do the proper staining. I was lucky as pathologists caught mine. I wish you both the very best….keep us posted.

Liked by cindylb

REPLY
@farmgirl1556

I would really appreciate this insight too as I am starting anastrozole. Just scared of the side affects but have been told it will be highly beneficial for me!😌

Jump to this post

@farmgirl1556 @francine6829

As posted a few days ago, I would encourage you to read the meta-analysis on aromatase inhibitors versus tamoxifen which I believe addresses some of your questions. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673615610741

REPLY
@elizm

@farmgirl1556 @francine6829

As posted a few days ago, I would encourage you to read the meta-analysis on aromatase inhibitors versus tamoxifen which I believe addresses some of your questions. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673615610741

Jump to this post

I would love to see this test with a placebo included in the mix, rather than a simple comparison of two drugs. Also – age specific results. It still doesn’t answer the question of age specific morbidity stats for Stage 1 with radiation OR radiation+AI OR radiation+placebo … THAT is a study that would give answers to me and many others. If anyone finds that study, you will become my new best friend (lucky you).

REPLY
@elizm

@farmgirl1556 @francine6829

As posted a few days ago, I would encourage you to read the meta-analysis on aromatase inhibitors versus tamoxifen which I believe addresses some of your questions. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673615610741

Jump to this post

Wow! This study is really interesting. Summation: Interpretation
Aromatase inhibitors reduce recurrence rates by about 30% (proportionately) compared with tamoxifen while treatments differ, but not thereafter. 5 years of an aromatase inhibitor reduces 10-year breast cancer mortality rates by about 15% compared with 5 years of tamoxifen, hence by about 40% (proportionately) compared with no endocrine treatment.

REPLY
@samy

I would love to see this test with a placebo included in the mix, rather than a simple comparison of two drugs. Also – age specific results. It still doesn’t answer the question of age specific morbidity stats for Stage 1 with radiation OR radiation+AI OR radiation+placebo … THAT is a study that would give answers to me and many others. If anyone finds that study, you will become my new best friend (lucky you).

Jump to this post

@samy
No, the noted study does not get into all the fine points which may interest you, but it does indicate that aromatase inhibitors were significantly more effective than tamoxiphen for postmenopausal women, and that recurrence rates differed little by age, stage, grade (body mass index, progesterone receptor status, or HER2 status) in the various therapy groups of the almost 32,000 patients in the study — important points in which you appeared to be interested.

Liked by kathyomaha55

REPLY
Please login or register to post a reply.