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Cancer Glossary Cancer Diet Guide Support Groups

Arimidex (Anastrozole )

 

Indications: For women who have breast cancer and are postmenopausal, Arimidex may be prescribed to help slow or stop the growth of cancer cells.  This medication is intended to lower estrogen levels because many cancer tumors need estrogen to grow.  It may also be prescribed for women that have not had success using tamoxifen. 

Your doctor may use Arimidex to treat other medical conditions in addition to breast cancer. For instance, you can be prescribed Arimidex as preventive treatment if you are at risk for breast cancer.  

Dosage form: Arimidex comes in tablet form to be taken by mouth, with or without food  

Dosage: As with any drug take Arimidex only as indicated on your prescription label.  If there is any part that you do not understand ask your doctor or pharmacist for an explanation.  Never be afraid to ask questions.  You should know exactly what you are taking and why.  This medication comes in tablet form as is intended to be taken by mouth.  Usually you will take the tablet once a day and can be taken with or without food.  However, if you notice your stomach is upset if taken on an empty stomach, then take with food.  This medication should be taken as closely as possible at same time every day.  Take only as directed.  Do not increase or decrease the dosage your doctor prescribes.   

This drug can be taken for several years or longer if needed.  Do not stop taking it without talking with your doctor just because you feel well.   

Often your pharmacist will provide a copy of the manufacturer’s information for patients with your prescription.  It may well be worth your time to read this information. 

Overdose: as Arimidex is in pill form, overdose can occur during the treatment. In case you experience overdose symptoms, contact your doctor or a local poison control center near you immediately. They will do what is necessary to eliminate or reduce the symptoms, and avoid serious complications.  

Missing dose: in case you forget to take Arimidex at the recommended time, take the missed dose as soon as you remember it if it is not almost time for the nest dose. In case it is time for the next dose, do not double it to recover the missing, it can be dangerous. Contact your doctor or wait to go back to your regular schedule.   

Contraindications/Precautions: Arimidex should not be used if you are pregnant as it could harm your unborn baby.  You may be asked to take a pregnancy text before this drug is prescribed.  Do not take this drug if you are allergic to Anastrozole, if you are breast feeding, or if you have not completed menopause.  This drug is usually not used for men or children.   

If you have heart disease, circulation problems, a history of blood clots or strokes, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, severe liver disease, or low bone mineral density, tell your doctor.

Interactions: Your doctor may already be aware of a potential drug interaction and is monitoring you.  Do not stop taking your medication without speaking to your doctor first.  Very serious interactions may occur with estrogens or tamoxifen.  If you have not started taking Arimidex and are taking estrogens or tamoxifen, let your doctor know.  Also let your doctor know of any nonprescription or herbal products you are using. 

These may not be the only drug interactions.  Be sure to let your doctor and pharmacist know all of the medication you are taking.   

Side effects: despite the beneficial effects of the drug, Arimidex tends to cause adverse effects in most patients. Fortunately, these adverse effects tend to disappear when the body adjusts to the medication. The most common Arimidex side effects include:

  • breast pain
  • weakness
  • weight gain
  • headache
  • dry mouth
  • hot flashes
  • sweating
  • nervousness
  • dizziness
  • decreased appetite
  • hair thinning/hair loss
  • persistent or frequent need to urinate
  • stomach pain and heartburn
  • difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • nausea and vomiting
  • bowel disorders – constipation or diarrhea
  • joint, bone, or muscle pain
  • mood changes or/and depression
  • Feeling of burning or tingling in your hands or feet. 

Although rare, Anastrozole can cause serious side effects which require immediate medical attention; contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms:    

  • chest pain
  • stomach pain
  • swollen glands
  • blurred vision
  • shortness of breath
  • difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes (Jaundice)
  • Skin problems: ulcers, itching, rash, blisters, hives, etc.
  • vaginal problems such as bleeding, dryness or irritation
  • fever which can be accompanied with sore throat and cough
  • Swelling of the eyes, face, lips, tongue, throat, arms, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs. 

 

references: 

1 - nlm.nih.gov, Anastrozole 

2 - santecheznous.com, Arimidex 

For more chemotherapy side effects and steps to take manage them, please visit www.cancereffects.com