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Arimidex

terri805
Posts: 123
Joined: Dec 2009

I just started taking Arimidex last week. I finished radiation April 23,2010. I postponed taking it til now because I went on vacation and had guests til then and I didn't want to have to worry about side effects during that time. Did anyone else wait about 2 and a half months after radiation to start taking it. When my Dr gave me the prescription I asked him if I could wait and he said yes but when I went back last week for lab work he asked me why I waited so I am wondering if that was bad to wait 2 and a half months before I started taking it. I asked him and he said "no" but it just makes me wonder. Also for those of you that experienced side effects how long after taking arimidex did you notice them and did they go away after time?

cabbott
Posts: 1046
Joined: Aug 2006

Everyone is different when it comes to side effects. I started an aromatase inhibitor (exemestane aka aromasin) after having surgical menapause, so the hot flashes were incredibly evident! I didn't think of it as a problem. To me, that meant the stuff(medical and surgical) was definately working to reduce my estrogen level. I don't recommend the ovaries out. They thought I had ovarian cancer at the time and that was one problem I fortunately haven't had. Mind you, I'm at risk for bone problems anyhow (it would be hard to name two risk factors that I don't have for osteoporosis), so I started taking calcium+D early. Bone loss is a side effect you won't feel until it is too late. I scheduled a bone density test every two years too. With Arimidex, you should also keep a check on your bones.

The pain in my feet started about a month or so after the meds began. The toes stretches in yoga class went on a bit too long one week and afterward I started not wanting to get out of bed in the morning. Or in the afternoon. Or in the middle of the night. Only the thought of losing my job or wetting the bed got me out and then I ouched all the way to the door. It kept increasing until I finally saw the foot doc, who prescribed orthotics and running shoes (more support, but hard to match with a skirt. . .). The nurse practioner at the oncologist's office a year later insisted I get my vitamin D level checked. It turned out (in spite of supplements and lots of fortified milk) that like the majority of breast cancer patients I was vitamin D low. I was stunned. It took about two days of prescription vitamin D3 and my ouchy toe joints were history. I can tell when I'm really low now and go back on the pills from the health food store as needed. May I suggest that you not wait a year for testing your vitamin D level if things start hurting? Also, do NOT self-medicate. It may be cheaper, but there is such a thing as vitamin D overdose. Your oncologist should be able to order the test and interpret it correctly. Good luck if you are dealing with a primary care doctor. They think the stuff in one-a-day vitamins is the maximum dose. It isn't.

These days, I still get "warm" at intervals, but I have almost no painful episodes. I am careful not to overdo as it takes me longer to heal a sore joint than I used to. However, that doesn't mean I don't exercise. I am at the gym Monday through Friday doing everything the class does. If something hurts (like too many pushups on my toes) I drop back to my knees, but I don't have to back off much. Keeping in shape prevents a lot of overuse injuries. I do spinning on Monday, weight lifting on Tuesday and Thursday, cardio on Wednesday, and yoga on Fridays. In the summer, I also walk several times a week with my mom (70+ and still walks 2-3 miles a day). What I don't do is carry a shoulder purse. For some reason, that makes for shoulder pain. Go figure. The weight lifting is a breeze in comparison but an hour carrying a shoulder purse and I'm messed up for a month!

So listen to your body and ask the nurses what to do if something hurts. Arimidex is nothing compared to chemo, but it still does a number on cancer and improves our lot considerably. Good luck!

C. Abbott

cabbott
Posts: 1046
Joined: Aug 2006

Everyone is different when it comes to side effects. I started an aromatase inhibitor (exemestane aka aromasin) after having surgical menapause, so the hot flashes were incredibly evident! I didn't think of it as a problem. To me, that meant the stuff(medical and surgical) was definately working to reduce my estrogen level. I don't recommend the ovaries out. They thought I had ovarian cancer at the time and that was one problem I fortunately haven't had. Mind you, I'm at risk for bone problems anyhow (it would be hard to name two risk factors that I don't have for osteoporosis), so I started taking calcium+D early. Bone loss is a side effect you won't feel until it is too late. I scheduled a bone density test every two years too. With Arimidex, you should also keep a check on your bones.

The pain in my feet started about a month or so after the meds began. The toes stretches in yoga class went on a bit too long one week and afterward I started not wanting to get out of bed in the morning. Or in the afternoon. Or in the middle of the night. Only the thought of losing my job or wetting the bed got me out and then I ouched all the way to the door. It kept increasing until I finally saw the foot doc, who prescribed orthotics and running shoes (more support, but hard to match with a skirt. . .). The nurse practioner at the oncologist's office a year later insisted I get my vitamin D level checked. It turned out (in spite of supplements and lots of fortified milk) that like the majority of breast cancer patients I was vitamin D low. I was stunned. It took about two days of prescription vitamin D3 and my ouchy toe joints were history. I can tell when I'm really low now and go back on the pills from the health food store as needed. May I suggest that you not wait a year for testing your vitamin D level if things start hurting? Also, do NOT self-medicate. It may be cheaper, but there is such a thing as vitamin D overdose. Your oncologist should be able to order the test and interpret it correctly. Good luck if you are dealing with a primary care doctor. They think the stuff in one-a-day vitamins is the maximum dose. It isn't.

These days, I still get "warm" at intervals, but I have almost no painful episodes. I am careful not to overdo as it takes me longer to heal a sore joint than I used to. However, that doesn't mean I don't exercise. I am at the gym Monday through Friday doing everything the class does. If something hurts (like too many pushups on my toes) I drop back to my knees, but I don't have to back off much. Keeping in shape prevents a lot of overuse injuries. I do spinning on Monday, weight lifting on Tuesday and Thursday, cardio on Wednesday, and yoga on Fridays. In the summer, I also walk several times a week with my mom (70+ and still walks 2-3 miles a day). What I don't do is carry a shoulder purse. For some reason, that makes for shoulder pain. Go figure. The weight lifting is a breeze in comparison but an hour carrying a shoulder purse and I'm messed up for a month!

So listen to your body and ask the nurses what to do if something hurts. Arimidex is nothing compared to chemo, but it still does a number on cancer and improves our lot considerably. Good luck!

C. Abbott

MNLynn's picture
MNLynn
Posts: 224
Joined: Jun 2010

Thanks for your post - gives me an idea of things to watch for as time goes on. I know I'm getting lab work done before my visit with my med onc this week - I'll have to ask if Vit D is one of the things they check. I do know my rad onc nurses said I should be getting more Vit D, so after I finished rads, I started taking the amount they suggested.

I did have a DEXA scan done before I started on the Arimidex - guess that was ok - but I'm going to ask if she'll keep doing that at intervals during these next 5 years.

I have high cholesterol, which I had been trying to control with diet before this bc stuff. Now that's become less of a priority, obviously, and I read that Arimidex can increase your cholesterol, so I contacted my med onc and pretty much insisted on having my cholesterol checked before starting the Arimidex - it was high, so I'm going to be seeing an Internal Medicine dr next month to address that.

♥ Lynn ♥

KayNYC's picture
KayNYC
Posts: 495
Joined: Mar 2010

Just went for my first, one month rad onc follow-up appt. The nurse asked if I started the Arimidex already and I told her that I finished my Rads on 6/11 and started Arimidex on 6/25. She said that many patients put off taking the Arimidex because of the fear of side effects. I acknowledged similar fears before starting but when I felt I had enough information, from multiple sources, I started the medciation. Arimidex recently went generic so the price is much lower if you are covered by insurance. The only side effect I have experienced so far is dry eyes. I was having some blurred vision and after tlking to the NP and my Retinal specialist, I started the aritifical tears (available OTC)and increased my fluid intake. It was incredibly hot for the last two weeks and fans, AC and blowers probably contributed to the dry eye situation. I also had dry eyes when I wore contacts years ago that forced me to stop wearing them so I may be predisposed to this problem.No other complaints. I was told that side effects if any don't begin for several weeks. We are all different so there is no good answer to "when" to expect them if they should occur.
Hugs, K

MNLynn's picture
MNLynn
Posts: 224
Joined: Jun 2010

I finished rads on May 12 - waited until June 25th to start Arimidex . . . my issue was different - we had switched to a different insurance company as of May 1, and I wanted to make sure all that was running smoothly before having to get refills on a $400/month medicine. I told my rad onc what I was doing - he agreed that it was probably better for me to wait to start, instead of starting and then having an interruption in taking it - but he did say I should let my medical onc know what I was doing, which I did.

Is there generic Arimidex available already? I thought, from what my rad onc told me, that it might not be until next year that that would be available.

It seems to me that I'm more emotional lately - wondering if it might be the Arimidex doing that, but don't know for sure - just with the follow-up appts and all going on - just trying to get back into life again . . . probably a combination of everything happening right now. I don't know . . .

Otherwise, I haven't noticed any other side effects yet - I know my onc said that a common one might be achy joints, but so far I'm doing ok.

Wishing you all the best . . . please keep us updated on any side effects you may have . . .

♥ Lynn ♥

KayNYC's picture
KayNYC
Posts: 495
Joined: Mar 2010

Arimidex went Generic on July 3 and is available at Walgreens, Kmart, CVS, Costco(that I know of).
Hugs, K

MNLynn's picture
MNLynn
Posts: 224
Joined: Jun 2010

Wow - that is great news - I didn't expect that . . .

sbmly53
Posts: 1466
Joined: Jan 2010

about the same length of time. My issue was that I have fibromyalgia and it was March. Damp and nasty. I waited until June 1 so that any side effect wouldn't be confused with arthritis, fibromyalgia or the like.
I am happy to report that I am doing very well. Hot flashes, but I had those already and they are no worse and not more frequently, either. Actually, I feel better than I have in months. I finished rads 3/5, and those visits knocked my socks off.

Sue

I also started D3 - is that I why I feel so much better?

cahjah75's picture
cahjah75
Posts: 2623
Joined: Jun 2010

I see my oncologist July 19th. I had blm June 22 and my surgeon told me because I had negative bc in lymph nodes I don't need chemo or rads. He thought the oncologist might put me on Tamoxifen which one of my sister's took. Another sister took Arimidex because she was post menopausal like myself. I'm 61 and still get hot flashes. Whatever the dr prescribes for me I don't look forward to any more body complications. I have osteoarthritis, high BP & elevated cholesterol. I recently had an abnormal Pth Intact test (how calcium is absorbed into the body) and hope to find out the cause this week. It might explain some of my bone pain. I'm so grateful for all the responses that are posted. It helps just knowing what some of the side effects might be so I can discuss with dr when I see him. Thanks,
Char

Different Ballgame's picture
Different Ballgame
Posts: 870
Joined: Jan 2010

Terri

First, I finished radiation the 3rd week in January. I started Arimidex Thursday March18. I also feared the side effects. Only side effect is a very, very, very mild hot flash. Be careful of caffeine as it can intensify the hot flash. My body is doing great on it (so far).

Yesterday I went to pharmacy, Jewel Osco (in a suburb of Chicago) to have Arimidex filled. The generic Anastrozole was then filled (my price $11.00 - my age 69). I asked for information on this generic, which they did not have. I asked who made this generic. They told me Pack - or PACK - (drug is manufactured in India). My price for Arimidex last month was $30. My price for Arimidex this month is $90. As I am doing great on Arimidex as far as the side effects, I did not want to chance what the side effects would be with the generic. I opted to stay on Arimidex.

I walk 5 days a week. I take a ton of vitamins, including D3 and calcium. Bone density was great before going on Armidex. Took text2 years ago in October. Now due for another bone density test this coming October. I also make sure I am in the sun for at least 1 hour.

Lots of Hugs,
Janelle

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