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Anastrozole (Arimidex)

Warning: Anastrozole may cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman and offers no clinical benefit to premenopausal women with breast cancer. In women with pre-existing ischemic heart disease, an increased incidence of ischemic cardiovascular events has been observed with taking this medication.

 

Indications Anastrozole comes in tablet form to be taken by mouth, with or without food. The medication can be used alone, but is often used in addition to surgery or radiation.  It is used in women with breast cancer.  Usually the women have experienced menopause.  For women who have experienced menopause but have had their cancer spread within the breast or other parts of the body may be prescribed this medication as a first treatment of breast cancer.  It may also be given in cases where breast cancer has worsened after taking tomoxifen.  Anastrozole is in a class of medications called nonsteroidal aromatase inhibitors.  Many of the breast cancer cells need estrogen to grow.  Using this drug will slow or stop the growth of these cancer cells by decreasing how much estrogen the body produces.  

Dosage: As with any drug take this medication as per the directions on your prescription label.  Ask your doctor or pharmacist for an explanation if there is any part of the directions that you do not understand.  Anastrozole comes in tablet form to be taken orally.  The usual prescription is for you to take the tablets once a day with or without food.  Do not increase or decrease the dosage your doctor prescribes.  The medication should be taken about the same time every day.  Take this only as directed.  This medication may be taken for several years or longer.  Just because you are feeling better, do not stop taking your medication without talking with your doctor. 

Your pharmacist may provide a copy of the manufacturer’s information for patients with your prescription. 

Overdose: The fact that Anastrozole comes  in pill form, patients can overdose. 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 Anastrozole 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.  

Interactions:   Tell your doctor or pharmacist any prescription or nonprescription medication you are currently taking or plan to take.  This includes, but is not limited to, medications that contain estrogen as hormone replacement therapy, hormonal contraceptives, raloxifene, or tamoxifen.   Also tell your doctor if you are taking medication for heart disease, circulation problems; or if you have a history of stroke, blood clots, severe liver disease, high cholesterol, and osteoporosis or low bone mineral density.  You should also tell your pharmacist about any vitamins, nutritional supplements, or herbal products you are taking or plan to take. 

Contraindications:  Anastrozole may worsen or cause osteoporosis.  If this medication decreases the density of your bones then the chance of broken bones and fractures increases.  This drug is usually only give to women who cannot become pregnant.  However, if you are pregnant or breast feeding you need to tell your doctor.  There is a possibility that this medication could cause harm to a fetus.

Combinaison of Anastrozole with tamoxifen and all treatments containing estrogens is not recommended. These substances can affect the action of Anastrozole in your body, and even cause serious health problems; talk to your doctor before taking any of the following:  

Side effects: d espite the beneficial effects of the drug, Anastrozole 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 Anastrozole side effects include:

  • persistent or frequent need to urinate
  • breast pain
  • weakness
  • weight gain
  • headache
  • dry mouth
  • hair thinning/hair loss
  • hot flashes
  • sweating
  • nervousness 
  • dizziness
  • decreased appetite
  • 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

http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/Safety-RelatedDrugLabelingChanges/ucm125179.htm