Arimidex can be referred to as an aromatase inhibitor which helps prevent estrogen production in females. Research has shown that the estrogen hormone is responsible for the creation of breast cancer tumors in women. Arimidex is the drug administered to intercept the enzyme aromatase, which is a substance that assists the body tissues in producing estrogen. Arimidex is a popular drug in the battle against breast cancer. It is by and large, a hormonal treatment which can prevent the recurrence of breast cancer. Arimidex, also known as Anastrozole is not a steroid.
Arimidex is known to have diminished estrogen way too much in some patients. This is why blood tests or salivary tests are recommended after a week of usage to determine whether the dosage is appropriate.
Arimidex tends to work quite differently than the traditional anti-estrogens. Anti-estrogens like Clomid or Nolvadex tend to intercept estrogen receptors in certain tissues while activating them in others. Meanwhile, Arimidex directly intercepts the enzyme aromatase. When a patient has been recommended the use of Arimidex, Clomid use along with is unnecessary. Doing so may have some benefits.
Use against Breast Cancer
Arimidex is generally used for all stages and forms of breast cancer which are classified to be estrogen receptor positive. In case the patient has estrogen receptor negative or triple negative cancer, the usage of Arimidex is unlikely to help.
How does Arimidex work?
Arimidex generally works by blocking the aromatoze enzymes, facilitating the decrease in the production of estrogen in the human body. With the decrease in production of Arimidex, the risk of exposure to breast cancer is eliminated. This procedure of treating breast cancer is known as hormonal therapy.
Arimidex is meant to be consumed orally with a glass of drinking water. Patients can take this medicine with or without food. The dosage is recommended at regular intervals as per the doctor’s orders. You should not take the medicine more than what has been prescribed. Always keep your prescription label handy for emergency usage directions. You should not stop taking the medicine without seeking proper advice from your doctor. In case you may have overdosed this medicine it is critical that you contact the emergency center of poison control facility as soon as possible.
What happens if you miss a dose?
In case, you miss a dose, you should take it as soon as possible. In the event you have already neared your next dose, avoid the missed dose and take the current dose. Do not double dose or take extra doses at any cost.
What can interfere with Arimidex?
Arimidex is not likely to be received well by patients who are under the following medications:
- Female hormones namely estrogens and progestins and Birth control pills.
It is advisable to submit a list of all the drugs you are on to the doctor. These may be medicines, herbs, dietary supplements, or non-prescription drugs. If you smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs you should not withhold the information and should disclose to the doctor immediately. Some of these elements can interact with Arimidex and create dangerous complications.
The side effects of Arimidex
Generally Arimidex is well tolerated by the human body and half of the women who are on it do not face any complications or side effects. Patients in the initial stages of breast cancer have reported a few side effects which are discussed below:
- Hot flashes - The uncomfortable sensation of having a personal summer heat wave which includes flushed face and upper body, pounding heartbeat, and excessive sweating is known as a Hot Flash. Estrogen suppressors such as Arimidex and Chemotheraphy are known to cause hot flashes.
- Joint Pain - Arimidex is known to have caused weakness in the joint areas namely the shoulders, elbows, and knees with the patients suffering from subsequent pain in those areas. Joint pains are triggered because of the weakening of the bones in the body.
- Weakness - A few patients have reported severe weakness engulfing the body under Arimidex administration.
- Mood swings - Mood swings are a reported side effect of Arimidex with users known to have shown bipolar tendencies. The patient experiences fits of euphoria inexplicably followed by episodes of acute depression.
- Sore throat - Arimidex users have also reported the repeated occurrence of sore throat which is a reason for great discomfort among them.
- Nausea and vomiting - Nausea and Vomiting are side effects which have been associated with Arimidex administration. This is a common side effect with several forms of hormonal therapy and should pass after a short period. In the event, a patient continues to suffer from these side effects; they are advised to consult their doctor as soon as possible.
- Depression - After using Arimidex, some users have reported tendencies which can be classified under Depression. While some of these patients have been extremely melancholic, others have showcased minor episodes of depression. These can be handled by consulting a psychologist.
- High blood pressure - Arimidex is known to have increased blood pressure levels in patients exposing the patients to the dangerous possibility of a heart attack or a stroke.
- Osteoporosis or thinning of the bones - Arimidex reportedly also causes Osteoporosis or thinning of the bones in some patients. This results in frequent joint pains and the high risk of suffering fractures even through minor accidents. This is why doctors recommend calcium supplements and a healthy supply of vitamins to patients who are using the drug.
- Swelling of arms and legs - Some patients using Arimidex have reported the appearance of strange swellings in the arms and legs. This is likely due to fluids accumulating in those areas as a result of fluid retention being initiated by the body after Arimidex administration.
- Headache - Arimidex users have also reported headaches as a common side effect of Arimidex use. These are notoriously recurring and cause a great amount of discomfort to the patient.
- The increased risk of bone fractures - Arimidex ensures that the estrogen levels in the body are extremely low. It is a well-known fact that bones require estrogen to keep them strong. Arimidex users have a 10% risk of suffering from fractures in the spine, wrist or hips etc. In comparison to Tamoxifen users who are at a 7% risk. Those using Arimidex despite the heightened risks should be careful and should try to avoid accidents as much as possible as even a minor once can cause a fracture. Do your research on supplements which can aid you in strengthening the bones and make sure you stock up on them after consulting your doctor.
Who should stay away from Arimidex?
Arimidex is not for all breast cancer patients and does not serve the best interests for females who are-
- Pregnant - Pregnant women should stay away from Arimidex as the drug can harshly affect the unborn child and hinder its growth.
- Breastfeeding - Women who are breastfeeding should not use Arimidex as there is a possibility of the drug leaching into the breast milk and rendering it innutritious.
- Taking Tamoxifen - Women who are already taking Tamoxifen are advised not to take Arimidex. Tamoxifen is generally a weak estrogen and is more or not likely to interfere with Arimidex.
- Women having estrogen-receptor negative breast cancer - Arimidex will not provide any benefit for women who have estrogen-receptor negative breast cancer.
Recommendations for patients using Arimidex
- Patients who are using Arimidex should employ contraception to avoid pregnancy at all costs. It is well known that Arimidex does not go well with pregnant women. The preferred choice of contraception should be condoms, because Arimidex is known to cause complications in women who are on birth control pills.
- Hot flashes are a well-known side effect caused by Arimidex. Users of the drug should try and avoid stress as much as possible, as stress is an instant trigger of hot flashes. Good ways of avoiding stress is to join a yoga class or pursue a new hobby.
- For patients who are suffering from joint pain, it is highly recommended for them to consider ‘Ibuprofen’. For those allergic to painkillers, a nice relaxing hot bath or hot showers daily can alleviate the discomfort being caused by the joint pain. External pain relieving gels and sprays can also be administered.
- For those patients, who are consistently complaining of nausea and vomiting, it is critical that they consult their doctors immediately as a few emergency measures need to be taken. Doctors will help them regain their appetite and design them a diet which should help them to eradicate the complications being experienced previously.
- It is extremely critical that Arimidex users keep good care of their bone’s health. Obviously, the first step would be to avoid accidents at all costs. Secondly, they should look to strengthen their bones by enrolling in a gym and asking the trainer to suggest a few weight-bearing exercises which are considered beneficial for the bones. Arimidex users are also well served if they maintain their distance from smoking and alcohol consumption. As per the doctor’s recommend, stocking up on a supply of calcium and Vitamin D supplements is always a good idea. They also should be on a diet which is rich in minerals and nourishing.
The final say on Arimidex
Arimidex has been approved by the medical fraternity to be a very effective cure against breast cancer in women diagnosed in the early stages. Breast cancer has the notorious reputation of having a recurring nature and Arimidex remains an important drug available at a doctor’s disposal to prevent the same. Although critics have raised questions on some of their side effects, research has shown that Arimidex is accepted by half of the females fairly well and side effects do not show in a majority of females. For females who do begin to show side effects, there are measures that can be taken to ensure they are swiftly intercepted and effectively managed.
Patients who use Arimidex should secure a good working relationship with their doctors as there is the need for effective cooperation between the two for the use of Arimidex to be safe and effective. The patients should not withhold any information from the doctor as it is critical that the doctor has a good working knowledge of the patient’s medical history. It is established that Arimidex is not a steroid and has fairly manageable side effects. Efforts should now be directed towards making this drug more effective and side effect-free.