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Tamoxifen vs. arimidex

Double Whammy's picture
Double Whammy
Posts: 2805
Joined: Jun 2010

I'm just wondering today . . . . I switched FROM Armidex TO Tamoxifen a year ago in an attempt to see if the Arimidex had anything to do with my lack of hair.  It didn't.  At the time of the switch, my oncologist said Tamoxifen was good for my bones because like the uterus (which I don't  have) Tamoxifen acts like estrogen on your bones.    Arimidex contributes to osteoporosis (which I have developed).  what are your thoughts about postmenopausal women at risk for osteoporosis using Tamoxifen instead of Arimidex?  I know Tamoxifen carries the risk of stroke  and blood clots but Arimidex has side effects of hypertension and heart disease, so WTH? 

For some reason I have this "thing" about breaking a bone and for some reason I have another "thing" about not wanting to take a bisphosphonate.  I'm 66 and fractures are no small matter in folks as they age.  My aunt recently died from complications of a broken arm!  Of course, she was quite elderly (91), but her body directed all of its energy to healing that trauma and could not keep up the rest of its job.  She has in good health (for 91) otherwise. 

I found this article online that explains the differences and benefits of each pretty well.  What are your thoughts? http://oregon.providence.org/patients/programs/providence-breast-centers/Pages/askanexpertlanding.aspx?TemplateName=Ask+an+Expert:+Tamoxifen+vs.+Arimidex?&TemplateType=AskAnExpert


KathiM's picture
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005

....for over 5 years now.


Surgical menopause from a total hysterectomy, so no worries about uterine cancer, one of the biggies for Tamoxifen.

Osteoporosis full-on.  Another reason for Tamoxifen...aids against osteoporosis.

Cholesterol naturally high.  Another reason for Tamoxifen...the AI's can raise cholesterol...AND I get a yearly infusion of ReClast....works VERY well...I know, it's still a biphosphonate, but works sooooo much better for me than Actonel or Boniva!  I used to have a bought of siatica once a week, now, it's been months....

New findings show that Tamoxifen, taken years 5-10, actually significantly reduce the risk of recurrance of breast cancer (ER/PR+).

I am going on 9 years since my first dx (rectal).  7.5 years since last treatment (rad boost) for the breast cancer.  I am doing well, living life.  No real aches to complain about, except for the damaged hip from the rads for the rectal cancer.  I sometimes worry about hair loss...but I asked my hairdresser, and she said it is normal to loose about 100 hairs daily....and I am blessed with enough to not even miss that many...


Hugs, Kathi

lintx's picture
Posts: 691
Joined: Sep 2012


I started my 2nd yr on Tamoxifen in Sep.  My onco said the same as yours, as far as it being beneficial for bones. I thought I'd taken it w/zero se's, until my Nov appt for eye ck.  In one yr, I have cataract growth on both eyes and am just about ready for that surgery.  DR blamed Tamoxifen, but who knows for sure.  She also said she sees a large % of retinal problems from the med, and I s/b aware of the signs.  I do lose a lot of hair each day but have thick hair, so consider that a minor nuisance for now.  Linda 

Posts: 6587
Joined: Oct 2010

I just finished my 5th year of Tamoxifen. I did have (not sure of medical term) internal ultra sounds regularly  followed by a D & C each time (to check for thickening of the uterus)-I did have total hysterctomy 2 1/2 yrs into taking tomoxifen due to that.



aisling8's picture
Posts: 1618
Joined: Feb 2010


I can relate to all your concerns. I, too, have a "thing" about breaking bones and I, too, have a "thing" about biophosphonates. That being said, I follow my oncologist's insistent advice and I take my Arimidex and I "do" the Fosomax once a week. I took a year off from it because I was so afraid of osteonecrosis of the jaw, but my onc told me "hip fractures are no fun, either." What to do? I think the osteoporosis bothers me more than the fear of cancer recurring.

For right now, I follow her advice. I increased my exercise. I do Zumba and Jazzercise and New Flower suggested I ask for a referral to a physical therapist to get exercises designed for osteoporosis, hip stuff with bands. And that's on my to do list after the holidays (assuming I don't break bones between now and then -- ha ha.)

But, yeah, it's scary.




mollyz's picture
Posts: 753
Joined: Sep 2010

I just got switched from exemestane to Arimidex just took my first pill this morning,

I started out in 2011 on femera and that had my wrist where i couldn't pick up anything.well last year he switched me to exemestane and i had been doing ok except for the joint pain well it got pretty bad last 3 or 4 months to where i had a chest xray and a shoulder xray due to pain in the collarbone area and pain in my shoulder and out side of my arm. well that was fine and then i had a bone scan and it was showing arthiris in the shoulder and spine which i already knew about that but since i haven't been on the exemestane my shoulders and arm stopped hurting.but any way im going to try the Arimidex for a while ,oh yes i get a prolia shot every 6 months for the bones,i just want to feel good , my body hurts and i excersise some maybe i need to get obssesive with it and just go all out with the weights and all, thats what my oncologist is always telling me but not to heavy on the weights sorry for the long post but the subject hit home so i thought i would chime in ha ha long chime ha!!!~~MollyZ~~

Posts: 1
Joined: Jan 2014

hi mollyz

just got diagonsed with stage 4 breast cancer with mets to liver started arimidex 4 days ago could you tell me how it is working for you

lynn1950's picture
Posts: 2574
Joined: Jun 2008

Reading these responses helps me see that we are between a rock and a hard place.  I'm on my sixth year of Arimidex now and have just become osteoporotic.  I've been taking Boniva for five years, so  it didn't stop the progression. I really don't see a good answer. xoxoxo Lynn


Posts: 137
Joined: May 2010

I took Tamoxafin for the first two years since I was menstruating when I got BC.  The I was switched to Arimadix which I've been on for about 8 months.  Arimadix works better in post menopausal women (which after chemo I now am).  Tamoxafin does build up your bones, Arimadix can cause osteoporosis.  My bones were great before I started Armimadix, but I haven't had them checked since I started.  I will in a couple of months.  I think you have to weigh the pros and cons.  If your bones are already weak I'm not sure I would go with Arimadix.  It's a bit more effective, but at what price?  You have to consider quality of life.  Can't really tell you what to do, but you need to consider all sides.  Good luck!

camul's picture
Posts: 2541
Joined: Dec 2010

But I do know thqt after taking the biophosphates for 3 years, I hac necrosis of thenjaw bone, so he stopped the Xgeva. I couldnt tolerate Tamoxifen, so I had been on Evista (another one to block estrogen. Stoppednthat onenbecause of he blood clots. I did end up (prior to mets with Osteoporosis, I was taking vit b 12 and something else, but it didnt stop it. Funny, some docs say this med caused it, others will say just age. Afyer first round of chemo, almost a year of Tamoxifen etc. my doc said arthritis is not so unusual, I was 44 and other than the lump had none of the symptoms that I had after chemo and Tamoxifen. I went from thick, heavy hair, to really thin with some bare spots in front.
This last time (bald #4), Suzanne haair came in thick in the front, no bald spots, it is curly, and is now grey. Prior to this last baldness, I have been whie for at least 15 years, and it was wavy! Each time it has come back differently. Who knows.
I worry a lot about a brocken or fractured bone. I was way more worried about that too, than cancer returning.... Now I get to worry about both. lol

Lynn Smith
Posts: 1265
Joined: Mar 2011

I've always had fine thin hair.I was put on tamox soon after the lumpectomy(no chemo or radiation).I've been on it for 4 years one year to go.My problem with thinner hair just recently started showing.Seems not so much the tamox but I feel the chronic bronchitis I had for months.I went downhill then.Still feel weak but think stress is causing it.Weight loss vitamin def and just more nervous now since my bronchitis. I have bad varicose veins and hope to soon take care of that.I had a appt but had to cancel. I had a cracked tail bone after falling out of my husbands truck.I fell really hard and did expect some kind of damage.Really surprised I didnt break my left leg, I went down just on the left leg and hip.I know it was alot of serious pain for 2 months but I got  over it.Haven't had any pain since.  

My doctor also told me with my total hysteroctomy tamox was what I should take.I just hope when I go off it my hair gets thicker.Not only is my hair thin but fine.My sister though since her dx takes armidex. She  has very very thin hair and wears a wig at times.Just 4 rounds of chemo but now she's almost bald. It's been over a year for her and she thinks her baldness might be permanent.Possibley will be since her hair was very thin before.  

I'm the same age as you and trust me I was sure I fractured my leg but was luckier with a cracked tailbone even though the pain was unbearable. I'm very short and only weigh 102 lbs but would like to weigh 120.You know how it is when you weigh more then loose.After cancer everyone thinks you're dying or its back.This is what I'm going through now.    

Linda, like you I developed a cataract just 6 months after tamox.Also had a floater at the same time.That drove me crazy seeing a light in the night.Husband told me there was nothing in my hair.All I saw was a flashing white light.Went to ER that night and they did a eye exam but couldn't tell much.I had to see my doctor.Did and he found the cataract.My first thought was surgery.He said no surgery since it was small and to continue my tamox even though it can cause them.He said body was more important with a cancer dx.Haven't had a check up in 2 years but doing good.No more floater problems and my eyes seem good but not 100% at 66 years old.  Don't wear my glasses. Good Luck to you on your cataract surgery.Someone I know just had it and said it wasn't bad. 

Lynn Smith

New Flower
Posts: 4299
Joined: Aug 2009


Happy New Year to you and your family.How is your husband?

Sorry laddies. I was on both drugs Tamoxifen -Arimidex-Tamoxifen . One of the reason for going back on Tamoxifen was Osteoporosis.

i used Calcitinin - salmon nasal spray instead biphosphonates to improve bones.


Pattitsa's picture
Posts: 7
Joined: Jul 2015

 Hi Suzanne and all the other brave ladies,

Hope you're doing well. I'm new to this sight as I was diagnosed last June with stage 1 HER+. Thankfully, no lymph nodes were involved & margins looked clear. I just finished 6 rounds of chemo & I'm going to be starting radiation maybe next week & I'll be on Herceptin until August. Sometimes, I feel like this ride won't end. Of course, I'll be on either Tamoxifen or Arimidex for 5 years. 

I'm very nervous about going on either one of them. I'll be constantly worried about breaking a bone & all the other uglies that go along with it. 

I really try to remain optimistic but it's hard some days. After the initial shock that your life has change dramatically. 

Please let us know how you're doing. Some of these post's are old but I hope you read this. Happy New Year & all the best.


Puffin2014's picture
Posts: 535
Joined: Jun 2014

You might get more responses if you post your question as a new thread.


Congrats on finishing your chemo rounds, I found radiation was nothing compared to chemo, other than the inconvenience of going in every day. My skin got a little pink and tender, had some occasional zinggy type pains in my breast, but no open sores or infections. As for fatigue, my energy improved during radiation. I was HER- so didn't get the Herceptin.

Since I'm postmenopausal I've been taking generic Arimidex for 15 months (tamoxephen is used for premenopausal women).  I had some achy joints when I first started the Arimidex. I was told to be as active as possible so I walk the treadmill every day and the achy joints have improved. My knees and ankles are stiff when I first stand up if I've been sitting for awhile, but they loosen up after a few steps. I take Vit D and calcium, figure I'm doing what I can to protect my bones. The decreased risk of reoccurence is worth it for me.

Now that you're done with chemo you really will start feeling better, just need to be patient.


Posts: 1
Joined: Oct 2013


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