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Trading Tamoxifen for Anastrozole

Trading Tamoxifen for Anastrozole

Posted by Runner Girl on Feb 11, 2020 10:24 am

I had my follow up with my oncologist yesterday.  Actually didn't see my onocolgist but saw his stand-in.  She advised that the protocol that my oncologist is seeing success with is to have hormone positive breast cancer patients take Tamoxifen for 2 years and then switch them to Anastrozole for 3 years.  They are apparently seeing reduced rates of recurrence with this process.

Is anyone here on Anastrozole?  What has your experience been?

My 2 year anniversary for Tamoxifen is December 3.  Closer to that date they will be sending me for a bone scan.

Runner Girl
Never stop believing in HOPE because MIRACLES happen every day!

Re: Trading Tamoxifen for Anastrozole

Posted by Kims1961 on Feb 12, 2020 5:33 am

Hello Runner Girl‍ 

Congrats on getting another appt. "down"!

I have heard of many on with the same plan as you are describing.  I was put on an AI inhibitor - Letrozole - first.  The trick was when i was put on it, i was in the middle of chemo and then radiation followed.   I used to ask my oncologist - which treatment is causing which side effect?  I struggled on Letrozole for one year and then was switched to tamoxifen.

The decision for the AI was that i was already menopausal.  I do have ostheoporosis so there was a concern about "bone loss" so i also do zoledronic acid infusions. The side effects that I felt  on Letrozole were dizziness, foggy head, constipation, overall unwell.  Sound familiar?  - could be any of the side effects from the other treatments. I think there is a risk for bone pain.

You have the right attitude and spirit - gather your info., speak to your doctor - ask questions - and give it your best " Runner Girl" try.  Just like your half marathons - you'll know if it is too much.

Very happy for you that you are at this point in your journey!  WHere did the time go?

Kim


 
Her2+, ER+ Bilateral mastectomy in 2017, followed by chemo and radiation. Mack and Hannah's mom

Re: Trading Tamoxifen for Anastrozole

Posted by WeeNelson on Feb 12, 2020 7:28 am

Hi Runner Girl.

I’m on Anastrozole. I went on it last September after 2 1/2 years on Tamoxifen. I haven’t had too many problems with it, other than mild fatigue. And sore hands, but that could be repetitive strain from computers and fiddles. I was told AIs were more effective at preventing cancer recurrence than tamoxifen, and Anastrozole was indicated particularly for postmenopausal women (like me). 

I am supposed to be on it until March 2022 and that’s when the medication regimen will end.

Hope that helps

Re: Trading Tamoxifen for Anastrozole

Posted by Runner Girl on Feb 12, 2020 10:43 am

WeeNelson‍ ,

Thank you so much for your reply and your story.  One of the side effects listed for Anastrozole is carpal tunnel symptoms.  This is a concern as I already suffer from carpal tunnel and had surgery for it in my left hand many years ago.  I'm also concerned about bone loss as I'm a tiny little thing.  Have you had a bone density scan?  Did they need to do anything for you about potential bone loss?  Sorry for all the questions, I hope you don't mind.

Runner Girl
Never stop believing in HOPE because MIRACLES happen every day!

Re: Trading Tamoxifen for Anastrozole

Posted by WeeNelson on Feb 12, 2020 4:03 pm

Hi Runner Girl - sorry, I haven’t worked out how to hyperlink you yet - 

Interesting that you have hand pain too. I was blaming mine on writing and fiddle playing but yes, it might be the meds because I’ve been writing and playing for years without any problem. At least I can put up with the pain. Usually.

I’ve had one bone density scan and my GP will probably send me for another soon seeing as 65. I’m large-framed, though, so I’m not too worried about bone loss. I take calcium and walk a lot, that’s about it.

Cheers! - WN

Re: Trading Tamoxifen for Anastrozole

Posted by Runner Girl on Feb 12, 2020 4:10 pm

WeeNelson‍ ,

To "tag" me, or anyone else type the @ symbol and start typing their screen name.  A blue popup box will appear and you can select the person's name from that.

Runner Girl
Never stop believing in HOPE because MIRACLES happen every day!

Re: Trading Tamoxifen for Anastrozole

Posted by WeeNelson on Feb 12, 2020 4:54 pm

Runner Girl‍ 
Thanks! 😊

Re: Trading Tamoxifen for Anastrozole

Posted by jeniswee on Feb 12, 2020 9:09 pm

Hi there, Runner Girl‍ 

It looks as though, by the looks of your 2-year Tamox-iversary, that you started about 3months before I did (mine’s Feb 15th). I made the switch from Tamoxifen to Anastrozole in my first year of  post-chemo) treatment.

For reference: I’m 35, and had DCIS, a single mastectomy, Chemo, and Radiation.  I took Tamoxifen for the first 6 months of my Hormone Therapy and tolerated it well so I am now on Anastrozole + Ovarian Suppression.

Symptom & side-effect wise, I’m having some tendon and muscle tightness and strain as well as waking up with sore hands (bone pain, maybe? - not too sure).  I also am quite challenged with temperature control (easily hot or cold with heat-triggered hot flashes), for which I’m also taking Venlafaxine (an anti-depressant) which curbs the hot flashes...but not fully.
I’ve been told by my Oncologist that she’d (ideally) have me on Anastrozole until 2029...yep-10 years!  She says this drug combo along with the 10-year duration could further decrease the chances of recurrence (from just Anastrozole alone) by up to 7%.

Re: Trading Tamoxifen for Anastrozole

Posted by Runner Girl on Feb 13, 2020 8:42 am

Hi jeniswee‍ ,

Thank you for sharing your information with me.  From what I've read so far about the side effects carpal tunnel problems seem to be an issue.  I'm guessing that is why your hands are sore.  I already have carpal tunnel from working (typing too fast) so I'm concerned that the Anastrozole will likely make that much worse, but hopefully not.

I have wicked hot flashes and night sweats on the Tamoxifen, in between times I'm darn near freezing to death.  It's like my internal thermostat has gone completely haywire.  This apparently is a symptom of the Tamoxifen working, so I embrace that - need to find some good in it!

It sounds like you're doing exceedingly well with your treatment, my congratulations to you!!

Runner Girl
Never stop believing in HOPE because MIRACLES happen every day!

Re: Trading Tamoxifen for Anastrozole

Posted by Runner Girl on Feb 13, 2020 3:35 pm

Wow, my oncologist is right on top of things, or his assistant is....

I just received a call from Mayfair Diagnostics to book my bone density scan in November.  We booked it for November 17th.  I then called the cancer centre and my next appointment with the oncologist has also already been booked - for December 14th.

I'm all for being proactive and forward planning, but this I did not expect.

Runner Girl
Never stop believing in HOPE because MIRACLES happen every day!

Re: Trading Tamoxifen for Anastrozole

Posted by Lianne_adminCCS on Feb 13, 2020 4:45 pm

HI Runner Girl‍ 

Mine is a little different as my diagnosis was in 2010. Around that time they were changing from 5 years to 10 years of hormonal therapy. As I was pre-menopausal when diagnosed, I started on tamoxifen. Besides the odd swollen ankles, I must say I really sailed through it. After 4.5 years, i was moved to and AI (Aromatase Inhibitor ). I tried a couple ( and even briefly went back to Tamoxifen ) before settling on Exemestane (Aromasin ). . I was on that for 4 1/2 years. I was meant to do a total of 10 years but when I asked to get off it my oncologist was fine with what I had done. My side effects were mainly the odd swollen ankles ( more so in the heat of summer ). I have had bone density test checks a couple of times and have had no bone damage to report. In fact they commented that they were remarkably well in tact ha

As was mentioned, doing your own homework and weighing the pros and cons is your best tool to make an informed decision.

Let us know when the time comes which way you go

Lianne

Re: Trading Tamoxifen for Anastrozole

Posted by Wendy Tea on Feb 13, 2020 6:28 pm

Runner Girl‍  That is wonderful news! You are so blessed. 2020 is going to be your year!!!
Healing takes time and opportunity. Wendy Tea

Re: Trading Tamoxifen for Anastrozole

Posted by dmarie on Feb 14, 2020 7:54 pm

Runner Girl‍ 
I have been on Anastrozole since last summer, right after I finished radiation. My oncologist sent me for a bone density scan first to be sure I didn't already have osteoporosis - I am very small boned. She suggested I might want to do the zoledronic acid infusions. When I saw the possible side effects of that and talked to another doctor about hi patients' s experiences with it I opted out of that. I will go for a bone density check every 18 months or so and I will keep doing weight training and a lot of walking plus lots of calcium and vitamin D.
With anastrozole I have had few side effects and so far they are quite manageable. I am cold all the time and have slight headaches a day or two a week. Not sure about bone or wrist pain as I have arthritis so the pain could be either. Oddly I have had two times, for about a week each, when my ankles swelled up. If Lianne_adminCCS‍  hadn't mentioned I would not have thought it might be a side effect.
Wishing you few side effects.
Del

Re: Trading Tamoxifen for Anastrozole

Posted by Mammabear on Feb 14, 2020 8:21 pm

very happy for you Runner Girl‍ . celebrate every milestone and having follow ups in the future already scheduled are a big relief. I am super interested in this topic. I hated tamoxifen and was on it for 4 years before my stage 1 triple pos cancer returned leap frogging me to stage 4. My recurrence was still very ER and HER2 + so the time on tamoxifen (in my opinion) was a waste of time. I have infusions every three weeks for life now to suppress the HER2 hormones and my oncologist said we would worry about tamoxifen later (I was pre-menopausal when diagnosed in Dec 2014 at the age of 50). I wonder why bother with it again. I receive both herceptin with pertuzemab for the HER2 now. I have only just finished up the crappy chemo at the end of Dec and although my scans were 'good enough' to get off chemo it is not gone (very very small still in liver). If she suggests tamoxifen again or anything else i will question the benefit. The side effects of Anastrozole don't look great and many of the ladies commented they have them. My next scans (bone and abdominal CT) are in April and I am happy to have those dates already set.