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Anastrozole (Arimidex)

by Mathew Marshall
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Anastrozole (Arimidex)

Indications: In addition to surgery or radiation Anastrozole may be used to treat early breast cancer. It can also be used alone. It is used in women with breast cancer who have experienced menopause. It can also be used as a first treatment of breast cancer, for women who have experienced menopause, which has spread within the breast or to other areas of the body.   In women whose breast cancer has worsened after taking tomoxifen may be given it to treat their breast cancer. This medication belongs to a class of medications called non-steroidal aromatase inhibitors. It works by decreasing how much estrogen the body produces. Many of the breast cancer cells need estrogen to grow; it will slow or stop the growth of these cancer cells.

Dosage: As with any drug take Anastrozole as the directions on your prescription label.  If there is any part that you do not understand ask your doctor or pharmacist for an explanation.  It comes in tablet form to be taken by mouth. Usually you will take the tablets once a day with or without food.  This medication should be taken about the 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.


Overdose:  as Anastrozole 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:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is people-often-forget-1024x576.jpgIn 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.

Contraindications/Precautions: Anastrozole may worsen or cause osteoporosis.  If it decreases the density of your bones then the chance of broken bones and fractures increases.  This drug is usually only give to women who have experienced menopause and cannot become pregnant.  If you are pregnant or breast feeding you need to let your doctor know before you start taking this drug.  There is a possibility that using this drug could harm to a fetus.

Interactions:   Before taking Anastrozole tell your doctor if you take 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.  Tell your doctor and/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.   You should also tell your doctor and/or pharmacist about any vitamins, nutritional supplements, or herbal products you are taking or plan to take.

Talk to your doctor before taking any of the following:

  • vitamin supplements
  • herbal remedies , principally St. John Wort
  • caffeine
  • alcohol
  • cigarette smoking

Side effects: Despite 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:

·         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

·         persistent or frequent need to urinate


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.


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