Joint pain tamoxifen arimidex

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

Tamoxifen is a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) that works by competing with estrogen to bind to estrogen receptors on tumor cells.

Arimidex (anastrozole) is an aromatase inhibitor that blocks an enzyme that converts androgens (male hormones) into estrogens in postmenopausal women.

Both drugs have been used as recommended treatment to help prevent recurrence of breast cancer in postmenopausal women with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer.

A study published in the British medical journal The Lancet, showed that anastrozole reduced the risk of breast cancer returning above the 50% already achieved by tamoxifen. About three-fourths of postmenopausal women with breast cancer are hormone receptor-positive, meaning their tumors are fueled by hormones.

Data from the landmark study at 68 months also showed that anastrozole had fewer side effects than tamoxifen, and study authors recommended that patients currently taking tamoxifen discuss with their doctors the possibility of switching to anastrozole.

Tamoxifen, which has been used to treat breast cancer for more than 30 years, has long been touted as the best drug to help prevent recurrence. However, it has been associated with life-threatening side effects in some women.

Side effects of tamoxifen include increased risk of blood clots, strokes, vaginal bleeding and cancer of the uterus. In the study, four times more women in the tamoxifen group had hysterectomies compared to women in the anastrozole group, which reflects the effects of tamoxifen on the uterus.

The study found that women taking anastrozole experienced more fractures and joint pain than those receiving tamoxifen, but study authors stated that those side effects were believed to be more manageable than the side effects from tamoxifen.

From the AstraZeneca website...

Prescription ARIMIDEX is only for postmenopausal women. ARIMIDEX should not be taken if you are pregnant because it may harm your unborn child.

In the early breast cancer clinical trial, the most common side effects seen with ARIMIDEX include hot flashes, joint symptoms, weakness, mood changes, pain, sore throat, nausea and vomiting, depression, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, swelling of arms/legs and headache. Fractures (including fractures of the spine, hip, and wrist) occurred more frequently with ARIMIDEX than with tamoxifen (10% vs 7%).

In advanced breast cancer clinical trials, the most common side effects seen with ARIMIDEX include hot flashes, nausea, decreased energy and weakness, pain, back pain, bone pain, and increased cough. Joint pain/stiffness has been reported in association with the use of ARIMIDEX.

ARIMIDEX should not be taken with tamoxifen or estrogen-containing therapies.

Since the introduction of Arimidex, many studies have shown that joint pain is a significant side effect of aromatase inhibitors. The joint pain is managed with non-steroidal-anti-inflammatory medicines and analgesics. Sometimes though, the pain can be debilitating and some patients have opted to discontinue their drug.

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