Arimidex (Anastrozole)

Warning:  Arimidex has been linked to cardiovascular risk in women with preexisting ischemic heart disease (IHD). The medication may cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman. The drug should not be taken by premenopausal women with breast cancer as it offers no clinical benefits, according to the FDA.

Indications: Arimidex is used for the treatment of breast cancer.  It is intended for women who have breast cancer and are postmenopausal.   This drug is prescribed to help slow or stop the growth of cancer cells.  Because many cancer tumors need estrogen to grow this medication purpose is to lower estrogen levels in the blood.  For women that have not had success using tamoxifen, this drug may be used. Arimidex comes in tablet form to be taken by mouth, with or without food

Dosage:  Arimidex should only be taken as indicated on your prescription label.  If you do not understand or are confused by any of the directions, ask your doctor or pharmacist for an explanation.  This medication is intended to be taken by mouth and comes in tablet form.  The usual dosage is one tablet once a day and can be taken with or without food. If you notice your stomach is upset when your take your medication on an empty stomach then eat something.  This medication should be taken at same time every day.  Take only as directed.  Take the dosage your doctor prescribes, do not increase or decrease on your own.

This drug can be taken for several years if needed.  Just because you feel well you should not stop taking your medication without talking with your doctor first. Along with your prescription your pharmacist may provide a copy of the manufacturer’s information for patients.  Consider taking some time to read this information.

Note that although cancer patients can take the medication with or without food, it is better to take Arimidex after a meal to reduce the risk of nausea or vomiting.

Overdose:  as Arimidex  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: If you you forget to take  Arimidex 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:  You may be asked to take a pregnancy text before this drug is prescribed as using Arimidex while you are pregnant could harm your unborn baby. Do not take this drug if you are allergic to Arimidex.  You should also not take this drug if you are breast feeding, or if you have not completed menopause. This drug is not used for men or children.

Tell your doctor if you have heart disease, circulation problems, or high cholesterol.  If you have a history of blood clots or strokes, osteoporosis, severe liver disease, or low bone mineral density, your doctor should know.

Mechanism of Action (MOA):  Arimidex works by inactivating the action of aromatase, an enzyme necessary for the conversion of androgen into estrogen. Once deactivated, aromatase is unable to provide estrogen to the growth and survival of breast cancer cells.

Interactions:Your doctor is likely already aware of a potential drug interaction.  Do not stop taking any medication without speaking to your doctor first.But be aware that very serious interactions may occur with estrogens or tamoxifen.  Let your doctor know if you are taking estrogens or tamoxifen and have not started taking Arimidex.  Any nonprescription or herbal remedy or vitamin supplements you are using should be disclosed to your doctor as well.  Be sure to let your doctor and pharmacist know all of the medication you are taking.  These may not be the only drug interactions.

Do not take Arimidex with the following

Side effects: while this medication can help certain women to fight their breast cancer, it may cause some  adverse effects in most patients. Fortunately, these adverse effects tend to disappear when the body adjusts to the medication. The most common Arimidex side effects include:

  • persistent or frequent need tourinate
  • breast pain
  • weakness
  • weight gain
  • headache
  • dry mouth
  • hair thinning or 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.


1 –, Anastrozole

2 –, Arimidex

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