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Anastrozole is an nonsteroidal aromatase inhibitor, primarily used
for treating breast cancer in post-menopausal women by inhibiting
the body's production of estrogen. It is less frequently prescribed
to treat metastasis in both pre and post-menopausal women, and when
treatment with other medications, usually tamoxifen, is not
Anastrozole is also known by the brand name Arimidex
Who Uses Anastrozole?
Anastrozole is usually prescribed to treat early or advanced breast
cancer in post-menopausal women, or to prevent the development of
breast cancer in women at high risk.
In some cases it is prescribed to pre-menopausal women to prevent
the spread, or metastasis, of cancer.
Anastrozole is often used in conjunction with other cancer
treatments, or after other treatments have failed to produce good
results. In some patients Anastrozole is more effective if started
after two or more years of treatment with tamoxifen, or it may
replace tamoxifen if the condition does not improve or worsens with
A pregnancy test is sometimes required before Anastrozole is
How does it Work?
Anastrozole works by inhibiting estrogen production and lowering
estrogen levels in the body. Many types of breast cancer thrive on
estrogen, so lowering estrogen production causes the cancer to
slow, shrink, or stop growing. In some cases it may prevent cancer
from developing in the first place, or prevent it from spreading to
the other breast or other parts of the body.
Other treatments which impact hormone levels, such as estrogen
replacement therapies or birth control pills, may greatly interfere
with Anastrozole's effectiveness. For this reason it is important
the prescribing physician is aware of all other prescription and
non-prescription medications being taken for the duration of
How is it Taken?
Anastrozole is a tablet taken once daily, preferably around the
same time each day. It may be taken with or without food.
Dosage and duration of treatment will vary a lot depending on the
condition being treated and patient response. It is not unusual for
treatment to last 5 years or longer, and for dosage to be adjusted
several times during treatment.
Missed doses should be taken when remembered. If it is near time
for the next dose, it may be skipped entirely. Double doses should
Physician instructions should be followed carefully while taking
Anastrozole for maximal effectiveness.
Active ingredient: anastrozole
Inactive ingredients: polyethylene glycol, titanium dioxide,
magnesium stearate, sodium starch glycolate,
hydroxypropylmethylcellulose, povidone, lactose
Patients with known hypersensitivity to any of the ingredients
in Anastrozole should not use this medication. This product
Side effects are rare, usually mild, and frequently stop after the
body adjusts to treatment. If side effects persist, are severe, or
worsen, a physician should be consulted:
- Hot flashes
- Stomachache, nausea or vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Vaginal dryness, irritation or bleeding
- Dry mouth
- Hair thinning
More serious side effects warrant immediate medical attention:
- Chest pain
- Painful or urgent urination
- Vision changes
- Yellowing of skin or eyes
- Pain in the upper right of the stomach
- Difficulty breathing
- Skin lesions or ulcers
- Rash, hives, itching or other symptoms of an allergic
Anastrozole may decrease bone density in some women, increasing the
risk of developing osteoporosis and bone fractures or breaks.
Frequent bone density tests may be requested for high-risk
Contraindications and Interactions:
This medication is only for post-menopausal women and certain
pre-menopausal women. It is not for use by men or children.
Anastrozole is harmful to nursing and unborn babies.
Like any cancer, breast cancer is a frightening and life-changing
event. While there is no certain cure for cancer, Anastrozole has
proven effective at combating or even preventing breast cancer in
many patients, even when other treatments fail to produce results.
For most women, the potential benefits far outweigh the possible