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Has anyone switched from Arimidex to Femara or vice versa - did it help?

BetsyJane's picture
BetsyJane
Posts: 127
Joined: Aug 2011

I have been taking Arimidex for two months now. The first month I had NO side effects. The 2nd month, however, was a totally different story. That's when the aches and pains began. Slowly at first, then more and more every day to the point where I am having a hard time even getting up and sometimes walking. All my bones are hurting .... bones I didn't even know I had hurt. Right now, I am taking 8,000 mg of Vitamin D3 and Caltrate along with other vitamins. I will be adding glucosamine and chrondriton with MSM to my list of vitamins to take in hopes that it may help. I know from reading the board that many of you have or are experiencing the same side effects from these aromatase inhibitors.

How many of you have switched from one aromatase inhibitor to another type (i.e. Femara to Arimidex or vice-versa) Did it help, hurt or did your side effects remain the same? "or"

Are you taking an aromatase inhibitor that has minimal side effects?

Thank you pink ladies for all your help. Your answers will not only help me but many others on this board with the same question.

Betsy

Different Ballgame's picture
Different Ballgame
Posts: 868
Joined: Jan 2010

Dear Betsy,

Some people do better on one drug than the other, meaning some do better on Arimidex and some do better on Femara. In my case, that was not true. I was on Arimidex for 7 months and it attacked both knees, my right heel, my hands (nerves), and out of control skin rash on front torso and back. Took 2 months off from Arimidex, then started generic...Anastrozole...which gave me side effects in 2nd and 3rd month which were knees hurting, right heel hurting, calf muscles hurting. Started Femara...after 2 weeks hands developed tingling again and knees...stayed on Femara for 28 days. I did not want to see what else would develop.

I no longer take any of those drugs.

Lots of Love,
Janelle

Lighthouse_7's picture
Lighthouse_7
Posts: 1566
Joined: Jan 2010

Hi Betsy,
I started Femara, switched to Arimidex and then tried Aromisin. Sorry to say they all attacked by bones and muscles until I could barely walk without pain. I am no longer taking these drugs because, like Jannelle, they just didn't let me live with quality of life.
I hope another one helps you. We are all so different.
Best of luck,
Hugs,
Wanda

natly15's picture
natly15
Posts: 1941
Joined: Sep 2009

I switched from arimidex to femara. Arimidex and me did not agree. Femara has been much easier. I took myself off arimidex after 1 1/2 to 2 months on it. I've been on femara over a year and so far so good. I do have achy joints but nothing that is debilitating or difficult to handle. It amazes me how we all react so differently to meds. Best wishes with your choices. (((HUGS)))

LouisaP's picture
LouisaP
Posts: 62
Joined: Feb 2015

I tried all 3 AI. I tried Aromasin first. It affected my hands so badly. I have permanent tendonitis in my left thumb. It's swollen too. I got trigger thumbs where my thumbs locked up & I couldn't straighten them. My hands were so painful it took both of them to hold a glass. I couldn't open the doorknob sometimes. I also have permanent neuropathy in my hands. Left on worse. I got cortisone injections & oral cortisone. It helped the right one but only a little of left. Took a few weeks off meds then switched to Arimidex. Severe pain started up again. I am already on oxycodone & oxycontin for other issues but it didn't help the hand pain. Stopped meds, more cortisone injections & Voltaren gel to rub on with not much help. Started Femara but tendonitis flared up again. Rt thumb is pretty ok. Cortisone injection into left thumb didn't do anything. I'm on Tamoxifen now. Still using Voltaren gel, it helps a bit. Wearing spica thumb splint 16 hours a day. 

I guess it's permanent tendon damage. Swollen thumb pad & thumb joint. Painful cyst at thumbpad are joint. Continued pain. Since the AI's are first choice drugs for my cancer, being on Tamoxifen cuts 15% extra of protection from reocurrence. So that sucks. I forgot what my chances are now but 15% more isn't so good. I already had neuropathy in my leg & foot so I'm not sure if it's worse from these drugs or just my other stuff. I'm on Gabapentin for that. But it does seem to help the neuropathy in my hands. Though there's no way to know since I still have it. But maybe it would be worse without it.

SIROD's picture
SIROD
Posts: 2199
Joined: Jun 2010

Dear Betsy Jane,

How about asking your oncologist for Tamoxifen? It is an older drug and use very successfully by women with Er or Pr positive cancer for years. It does not have the same side effects as Aromatase Inhibitors which are noted for bone & joint pains.

I did not have any bone & joint pain with Arimidex. I did have other problems. I did have bone & joint pains on Femara. I am back on this drug and dread the 3 week mark when the pain will come roaring back full force.

Every drug you take has side effects even if your not aware of them. Some interplay with others you take.

My suggestion is try Tamoxifen instead of an AI.

Wishing you the best,

Doris

BetsyJane's picture
BetsyJane
Posts: 127
Joined: Aug 2011

Thank you for suggesting Tamoxifen. I had previously suggested this to my onc. He does not want me taking Tamoxifen. He said, in my case, it isn't nearly as good as the aromatase inhibitor. In fact, he got very indifferent with me when I even suggested Tamoxifen. I read that tamoxifen can cause heart problems. Heart problems run in my family. In fact, I've just been taken off Herceptin for the time being because my recent muga scan result showed herceptin has lowered my heart infraction rate to a dangerous level. Hopefully my heart will repair itself and I can finish off my herceptin treatments. I have over 1/2 year to go with them.

I will call my onc office and ask about switching to Femara and see if that has less side affects for me. My sister took this drug years ago and she said she didn't have any problems at all from it. Since we are sisters, our body chemistry is similar and I'm hoping to have less side affects from it.

Please keep the answers coming and sincere thanks to those of you who have already responded to my question.

Happy New Year.

Betsy

survivorbc09
Posts: 4376
Joined: Jun 2009

Did you get switched to Femara Betsy? Are you feeling better if you did?

Hugs, Jan

GrandmaJ's picture
GrandmaJ
Posts: 209
Joined: Nov 2009

Been on Femara for 19 months. Worst side effect I have is a 15 pound weight gain and some hair thinning. So far, no bone pain o problems walking.

Linda8
Posts: 1
Joined: Mar 2017

I have been on Arimadex for 2.5 years. I switched to Femara 3 weeks ago. I was tolerating many side effects and my husband said That I was too accepting of the side effects. Femara has made a massive difference to me. I feel so much better. Tingling has gone in my feet and my joints are much better. As women we often tolerate so much. I encourage change.

Rague
Posts: 3660
Joined: Aug 2009

This is an older Thread that has not been,posted on til you for 5 yrs.

I've been on Femaral/letrozole for 7+ yrs with no issues and will be 'forever'.   When I started Femara, it was not yet available in the generic form letrozole as it is now.  Was never on any other AI's.

Wi,yan - The Power Within

Apaugh's picture
Apaugh
Posts: 856
Joined: Aug 2016

I like that these old threads are on here.  It helps me to see the progression and the struggle was there and is real.  It also shows me what to discuss with my doc for med changes can be available.  Between the herceptin and the amridex (spell)  my bone pain is off the charts.  I am hoping when they stop the herceptin, it will ease up some as I have to take that pill for at least 5 rs.  So I am trying to be patient and hang on and maybe by August, I will have a better idea.  I take gabbepentin, and I take lexpro, and a zertec, anti inflammatories.   hot baths with epson salts.  massage, cold pacs, I try everything.  I walk a litte but it is very painful in the hips and knees.  I cant go far and I feel like I am 90.  I am not giving up, I am not giving up.  I will just keep searching and being thankful for all you ladies on here.  I dont feel alone.  HUG

Beepositive
Posts: 259
Joined: Mar 2017

Hello Apaugh!!!  you are a fighter and keep the faith and keep fighting!!! Things will get better !   I always say there is always someone worst off than we are...God bless and continue to BEE Positive...I AM  Smile

Happy Days Ahead!   Hugs   BEEPositive!!

Mariangel43's picture
Mariangel43
Posts: 79
Joined: Jul 2016

I am 67 years old and with Arimidex any movement is becoming extremely painful.  I say at my job and my church, and my friends joke about it, that I feel like 90.  Allergic to aspirin and derivatives, I am forced to tolerate as much pain as I can.  Luckily, I should say Thanks to the Lord's help, I use only Tylenol and only one gabapentin daily.  I also looked at the other AIs and didn't like what I saw.  Blood clots, thrombosis,  etc, are a big menace.  I will try to stay one year with Arimidex and then change to Aromasin and later to Femara and rotate them until I, either find something better or quit treatment.  We must bee positive....

 

HopeAlways49
Posts: 1
Joined: Aug 2017

Femara made my joints hurt terribly. Doc switched me to Arimidex and I have no problems.

Mariangel43's picture
Mariangel43
Posts: 79
Joined: Jul 2016

I have been on Femara for almost three months. Joint pain is unbearable. calcification of tendons and many other problems. Considering Tamoxifen but I am scared of uterine cancer.  Maybe I stop this cancer drug and live with quality of life rather than quantity of life.

Mariangel43's picture
Mariangel43
Posts: 79
Joined: Jul 2016

I have been on Femara for almost three months. Joint pain is unbearable. calcification of tendons and many other problems. Considering Tamoxifen but I am scared of uterine cancer.  Maybe I stop this cancer drug and live with quality of life rather than quantity of life.

HapB
Posts: 527
Joined: Aug 2016

This thread is helpful, but it looks like we just have to do trial and error to see what works for us. I will try what the MO recommends and see how it goes. Looks like there is not one AI that works better than the others for most people. This is tough stuff. It seems a lot. Of women discontinue the AI's before the 5 years. 

626warrior
Posts: 4
Joined: Aug 2017

Ive been taking Arimidex for 2.5 weeks and started feeling joint pain, fatigue and insomnia within 2 days of being on it. Ive taken 50mgs of Tramadol (pain meds left over from mastectomy) and have also tried CBD topical cream on hands, knees and toes and it has significantly helped curb the pain. Will be trying Tumeric tea next to see if it helps with joint pain too so I can stop taking pain pill. I use CBD oil (a few drops under my tongue) to combat insomnia and body aches. i talked to my oncologist about what I've done to manage side effects and she feels i should switch to 2.5mgs letrozole. Im reading good and bad things about Letrozole and I'm weary about switching up so soon especially since I feel I'm getting a handle on my side effects. I'm also not looking forward to hair loss (letrozole side effect) now that my hair is finally starting to grow back. Anyhoo- I wanted to share what's worked for me with all of my pink sisters in hopes you find this useful In managing similar side effects. Stay strong!!

HapB
Posts: 527
Joined: Aug 2016

626Warrior, doesn't Arimedex cause hair loss. I share your concern about further hair loss and about to start Letrozole. I wonder how the MOs decide which AI to put us on.

Apaugh's picture
Apaugh
Posts: 856
Joined: Aug 2016

My hair is thinner on top. 

626warrior
Posts: 4
Joined: Aug 2017

Hi HapB- from what I read Arimedex causes hair thinning, Letrozole causes hair loss. Im also taking GNC hair, skin and nail formula supplements which contain 3k mcg Biotin daily and use shampoo w/ Ketoconazole (Dr Oz recommendation) 3x/week to stimulate hair growth. My laat chemo was on 6/16 and since then my eyebrows, arm and leg hair have grown back and i have 3/4 of an inch of hair growth on my scalp. Let me know what side effects you experience from Letrozole. I picked up my prescription of Letrozole but am sticking with Arimedex for now. 

HapB
Posts: 527
Joined: Aug 2016

I dread taking these pills. 

Mariangel43's picture
Mariangel43
Posts: 79
Joined: Jul 2016

Pain is unbearable.  My MO changed me to Evista.  I asked my family physician to give me a low anticoagulant drug to reduce the risk of embolisms and thrombosis.  I have to check the cancer antigens before making a new decision.  Have nice dreams.

LouisaP's picture
LouisaP
Posts: 62
Joined: Feb 2015

Evista isn't a hormone blocker. Are you on a hormone blocker & taking Evista for osteoporosis?

Lola15
Posts: 1
Joined: May 2018

Does anyone know if Rogaine helps with hair thinning caused by Arimidex or Tamoxifen?

 

Apaugh's picture
Apaugh
Posts: 856
Joined: Aug 2016

Up and down and all around.  This healing is in stages and takes awhile.  I am trying to be calm and patient and not pushing it anymore.  I am taking ea. day and adjusting.  It has been a rollar coaster of a time.  Getting off all the drugs to combat the side effects of chemo has been a long journey.  I have been staying postive and determined. 

I got off the gabbipentin, the pain meds, the nausua meds, the allergy meds, the stomach meds.  I feel better. 

Do I have pain?  Oh yes I do but I am not living my life in a haze.  I take tylenol for pain, hot baths, massage, and stretches.  I try to take at least one short nap a day.  I feel blessed that I have been able to do this.  So many of us can't and may never be able to. 

Doc switched my Arimidex to Tomoxifen and then after 3 mo. back again because I broke my leg which brings you at a high risk for blood clots.  Had a 2 1/2 month break from any anti estrogen meds.  Doc about had a fit.  However, I think that short break and the fact I was reducing my over the counter meds and script meds (such as gabbipentin and pain meds)  and getting the chemo and herceptin out of my system helped me because when I went back to Arimidex the pain was not as bad as first time and neither are the hot flashes.  I hope this last.  

I found that doing stretches before I get out of bed ea. morning helps a little.  I still have not found out how to get rid of that awful pain when getting up out of a chair but once I am out and walk a little it lessens.  I do feel like I am 90 alot of the time.  I am just going to keep on trying.

After 3 mo. i got my to take off my leg brace so there is that strengthening I have to do.  Oh it seems like it is always something ya know! 

Up note, my hair is getting thicker.  I have cut it short short 3 times now out of frustration but I think it helped thicken it.  I believe it is just going to take a long time to get my hair back.  Like years.  and if I dont, well then I dont. 

Due to my broken disc, my back pain will never lessen unless I have major back surgery.  I am just not in the right place emotionally to get cut on again. So I am just going to take it easy and build up the rest of me. 

Due to my lymphedema in my arms, I will always have to do the upkeep on them.  I appriciate all I learned in physical therapy to care for them.    I also got my diabeties A1C level down and my white blood count finally went back to normal! 

Next week they are taking out a lympoma (fatty cyst) from my left thigh that is pressing on a nerve and causing pain. That will be no big deal.  Here is the best part... they are taking out my chemo port too.  I am so happy about that. 

Am I still a big mess?  Sure I am but I think I am in a better place than I was 2 yrs. ago.  

Keep on plugging along people. Take it one day at a time. Keep on praying and finding those silver linings of ea. day. 

Thanks for reading my long post...

Hugs,

Annie

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