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Aromasin (exemestane) is an anti-estrogen medication used in the
adjuvant treatment of estrogen-receptor positive early breast
cancer in post-menopausal women. It may also be used in cases of
advanced breast cancer when other medications have failed.
Aromasin is an adjuvant treatment for women who have already
undergone surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. Treatment with
Aromasin typically begins after two to five years of prior
treatment with tamoxifin.
How Does it Work?
Aromasin inhibits the production of the hormone estrogen in
post-menopausal women. Many types of breast cancers are stimulated
by estrogen, so sufficiently lowering the levels of estrogen in the
body effectively stops the growth of those breast cancer cells.
For women with early breast cancer, treatment with Aromasin begins
after two to three years of treatment with tamoxifin have already
taken place. In advanced cancers, Aromasin may be prescribed after
five years of tamoxifin treatment. Tamoxifin should be discontinued
once treatment with Aromasin has begun.
Clinical trials indicate that women who switch to Aromasin after
initial treatment with tamoxifin experience significantly less
breast cancer recurrence, as well as reduced risk of developing
cancer in the other breast, when compared to women who used only
How is it Taken?
Aromasin comes in tablets, typically 25 mg, though in some cases up
to 50 mg may be prescribed. Aromasin should be taken with or
immediately after a meal.
Missed doses may be taken as soon as they are remembered, or
skipped entirely if it is near time for the next dose. Double doses
should be avoided. If overdose occurs, seek medical attention
Treatment length may vary depending on the situation and patient
response. For treating early breast cancer in which two to three
years of tamoxifin have already taken place, treatment with
Aromasin generally takes place for another two to three years for a
total of five years adjuvant therapy.
The prescribing physician may recommend frequent blood testing
while taking Aromasin to monitor patient response and watch for
adverse effects. In some cases a pregnancy test may also be
required before Aromasin is prescribed.
Active ingredient: exemestane
Inactive ingredients: magnesium stearate, magnesium carbonate,
colloidal silicon dioxide, methylparaben, microcrystalline
cellulose, polyethylene glycol 6000, polysorbate 80, titanium
dioxide, crospovidone, polyvinyl alcohol, mannitol, simethicone,
hypromellose, sucrose, sodium starch glycolate
Patients with known hypersensitivity to any of the ingredients
in Aromasin should not take this product.
Aromasin has been extensively tested in clinical trials. However,
like most medications, it is associated with certain side effects
in a small percentage of patients.
Most side effects are relatively mild, including:
- Hot flashes
- Joint pain
- Upset stomach
- Difficulty sleeping
- Increased sweating
Though rare, some patients may experience more severe side effects
which warrant medical attention:
- New or unusual bone pain
- Vision problems
- Swelling in hands or feet (edema)
- Shortness of breath
- Confusion or difficulty speaking
- Loss of balance
A very small percentage of patients (less than 0.5%) may experience
heart failure while taking Aromasin.
Contraindications and Interactions:
Aromasin is for post-menopausal women only, and may cause
miscarriage or harm nursing or unborn babies.
There are a number of prescription and non-prescription medications
which may interact with Aromasin and reduce its effectiveness or
cause severe side effects. It is vital that the prescribing
physician be made aware of all medications being taken and any
other medical conditions, and be alerted to any changes.