Treatment Name: Anastrozole (Arimidex®)
Anastrozole (Arimidex®) is a Chemotherapy Regimen for Breast Cancer - metastatic
How does anastrozole work?
It is designed to inhibit an enzyme in your body called aromatase. Aromatase is responsible for helping produce estradiol (a type of estrogen). When anastrozole inhibits aromatase, there is almost no estrogen produced that would bind to the receptors on breast cancer cells to tell them to grow and divide. Patients with breast cancer that are not estrogen-receptor positive rarely respond to treatment with anastrozole.
Goals of therapy:
Anastrozole is commonly taken to slow the progression of the disease and prevent it from spreading further, not for cure.
- Usual starting dose: Anastrozole 1 mg oral tablet by mouth daily
Anastrozole is usually taken at home. Duration of therapy is until the cancer spreads or unacceptable side effects occur.
It is only indicated for use in post-menopausal women and should not be used by pre-menopausal women. Ask your doctor if you are unsure as to whether you are considered pre- or post-menopausal.
In clinical studies, the most commonly reported side effects with anastrozole are shown here. Side effects sometimes have percentage ranges [example: 13 – 31% experience nausea] because they differed between clinical studies:
A note about side effect percentages
- Hot flashes (20 - 38%)
- Joint pain (32%)
- Fatigue (9 - 32%)
- Nausea (13 - 31%)
- Pain (8 - 25%)
- Diarrhea (17%)
- Bone pain (6%)
- Fluid in extremities (6%)
- Constipation (6%)
- Sore throat (5%)
- High blood pressure (5%)
- Depression (5%)
- Vaginal dryness (2 - 5%)
- Weight gain (3%)
- Stroke (2%)
- Blood clots (1%)
- Heart attack (1%)
- Vaginal bleeding (1%)
Importantly, not all people who experience a side effect from Arimidex® (anastrozole) will experience it in the same way. It may be mild in some or severe in others, depending upon the individual. Everybody is different. Additionally, side effects may vary over time. For some, side effects may be a reason to delay or switch treatment, reduce the dose, or avoid future treatment with a certain medication altogether.
Side effects may be treatable when they occur or preventable by taking certain medications before they happen. When medications are taken to prevent a problem, this is known as prophylaxis, or "prophy" for short.
After starting treatment with Arimidex®, be sure to come back and watch all of the side effect videos shown below. Each of these videos contain valuable information about side effect management that will hopefully help you to both feel better and stay out of the hospital.
How often is monitoring needed?
Labs (blood tests) may be checked every one to three months. Labs often include: Complete Blood Count (CBC), Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP), triglycerides, and blood cholesterol levels.
How often is imaging needed?
Imaging may be checked before treatment and every two to six months during treatment. Imaging may include: bone scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and computerized tomography (CT) scans. DEXA (Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) scans may be performed to monitor your bone density.
How might blood test results/imaging affect treatment?
Depending upon the results, your doctor may advise to continue anastrozole as planned, or delay or switch therapy.
- Do not take estrogen replacement therapy or other medications that contain estrogen as they may decrease the effectiveness of anastrozole
- Women with a history of heart disease may have an increased risk of heart attack with anastrozole compared with tamoxifen therapy. Your doctor will consider the risks and benefits of each therapy when deciding between treatments. Anastrozole and tamoxifen should NOT be taken together
- A pharmacist should ALWAYS review your medication list to ensure that drug interactions are prevented or managed appropriately
- Clinical trials may exist for breast cancer. Ask your doctor if any studies are currently enrolling in your area. If not, go to clinicaltrials.gov to search for other centers offering study medications
Patient Assistance & Co-payment Coverage
Patients under the age of 65 years, or those with private insurance plans:
If you have insurance and are looking for patient assistance or copay assistance for Anastrozole (Arimidex®), we have provided links that may help.
Visit our Patient Assistance page and click the links to various patient assistance programs for help paying for Anastrozole (Arimidex®). Depending upon your income, they may be able to help cover the cost of:
For Branded medications (may be available for generic medications too), check with the manufacturer to determine if a co-pay card is offered and if it could reduce your monthly copay.
- If you are uninsured, check with the manufacturer to determine if you are eligible to receive medication at no cost.
Medicare and Medicaid patients (Patients 65 years or older):
The clinic providing treatment will likely pre-authorize medications and immune therapies such as Anastrozole (Arimidex®) and are the best source to help you understand drug cost.
- Ask to speak with a patient assistance technician or financial counselor at the clinic or hospital administering this therapy.
What is Emotional Wellness?
Emotional wellness is having a positive outlook balanced with a realistic understanding of current life events. This requires both an awareness and acceptance of your emotions. It is with this knowledge that you can develop a plan to take the necessary actions to positively impact your life.
Emotional wellness uses an ongoing process to continually reflect on the stressors of life in a constructive manner to move forward and create happiness.
Because emotional wellness is deeply connected with physical, social, and spiritual wellness, pursuing it often becomes particularly difficult in times of major illness. Despite this difficulty, working toward emotional wellness has been connected to improved treatment outcomes and a higher likelihood of achieving goals of therapy.
Learn more about pursuing emotional wellness while receiving treatment with Anastrozole (Arimidex®)