I am trying to decide if I want to take Arimidex and radiation after lumpectomy? I am afraid of what the drug and radiation will do to my body. Are there significant side effects? Can doctors do blood tests to measure the amount of estrogen still in your body since I have already gone through menopause?
Not everyone has side effects from anastrazole. I am 3 years in and I can say that I have absolutely no side effects. You hear a lot of scary things but you have to remember that as with everything, people mention the bad things and people without say nothing. Anytime you read drug info, they mention everything possible that they have done during the approval process and some things are very rare.
I chose not to take the aromatase inhibitors (such as arimidex etc) my cancer was stage 2a ER/PR positive 95%. Some common side effects are:
Hot flashes and night sweats.
Joint and muscle pain.
Loss of bone mineral density (may lead to osteoporosis or bone fractures)
Loss of sex drive.
Vaginal dryness or itching.
I also opted out of the sentinel node biopsy. I had neoadjuvent chemo so a node biopsy would only determine if they would recommend radiation or not. I had already researched enough to know that i wouldnt do radiation so to me the risk of lymphedema and chronic pain wasnt worth it. A friend of mine had two positive nodes and chose not to do radiation - and she’s almost 15 years out from her treatment and remains recurrence free.
Heres a link you may find helpful - you can plug in your info and sew how different treatments will affect your recurrence risk.
I think most of us have followed conventional tx options so its hard to evaluate the choices you are considering (no rads or no AI). My personal opinion is to “follow the science” because current standards of oncology care have been through rigorous and time tested studies and research. But it comes down to your own risk tolerance level. I figured it would be harder to cope with a recurrence if I didnt follow what my medical team recommended. It was frightening to undergo tx but in the end, it was worth it. I’m 6 years out and pray for continued health.
I’ve taken arimidex for five years so far. I am osteopenic, which can be attributed to chemotherapy, with subsequent loss of mensus at 46 and arimidex use, however labs show it’s a very slow progression. As my endocrinologist points out, while being super mindful to include D3, calcium and weight-bearing excercise does stem the tide significantly, it’s not a game of reversal.
Initially I had joint pain, but have that well managed. I rarely am even stiff on rising in the morning any more.
As to measuring serum level estrogen- yes, they can do that. Post-meno estrogen is always present. Adrenal glands and fat tissue secrete estrogen throughout the entirety of life. One does well to keep their BMI in check, but, while helpful, that doesn’t fully inhibit estrogen production.
Tough decisions, for sure. Much is determined by your personal risk for relapse without versus with ongoing therapy. For me, it was clear.
Oncologists are medical scientists who weigh the benefits against the risks depending on each patient’s diagnosis. I always try to follow their recommendation because I don’t want to look back in 5 years and think ... I should’ve, I would’ve or I could’ve.