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How Effective Is Anastrozole for Breast Cancer?

Lynelle Harmon
Lynelle Harmon

Anastrozole is an oral medication prescribed in the treatment of breast cancer, specifically in post-menopausal women. This drug treatment has proven effective when used as a first method of defense or as an early prevention technique. It’s also used for qualifying patients who’ve reacted badly to the cancer medication tamoxifen. The risks and side effects should be considered when using anastrozole for breast cancer.

Anastrozole belongs to the medicinal class of non-steroidal aromatase inhibitors. It works by blocking the receptor sites for the enzyme aromatase, which is partly responsible for the production of estrogen in post-menopausal women. A block of that estrogen decreases the chances that the hormone will stimulate the growth of abnormal cells that can create and spread breast cancer.

Anastrozole is specifically designed for post-menopausal women.
Anastrozole is specifically designed for post-menopausal women.

Doctors typically prescribe anastrozole for breast cancer when the patient is post-menopausal and in the early stages of treatment. The drug targets a particular type of tumor that is responsive to estrogen. Chemotherapy and/or radiation can be used concurrently with this medication. The dosage of anastrozole for breast cancer is done orally via a tablet, and patients are typically prescribed one tablet per day, taking the dose at the same time of day to prevent a forgotten pill. The length of treatment can last up to several years, depending on the need of the patient.

The anti-estrogen medication tamoxifen is often prescribed to treat breast cancer, though studies have shown that anastrozole is more effective for post-menopausal women, as it offers a lessened chance of recurrence. Tamoxifen also carries the risk of causing endometrial cancer. Doctors may switch patients from tamoxifen to anastrozole if the patient seems at risk from tamoxifen’s side effects.

Anastrozole for breast cancer carries its own risks. The medication can cause osteoporosis or worsen the preexisting condition. Patients should inform the doctor of any current medications or conditions prior to beginning the medicinal treatment.

Minor side effects that exist for this medication include headache, nausea, and depression, and patients should inform the doctor if these side effects worsen or continue for a length of time. The doctor may want to monitor the effects to decide on the next course of treatment, and the dosage may be adjusted or ceased. Serious side effects of anastrozole for breast cancer should be reported to the doctor immediately, including blurred vision, yellowed skin, or difficulty breathing. Medical attention may be required in the case of an allergic reaction.

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    • Anastrozole is specifically designed for post-menopausal women.
      By: olezzo
      Anastrozole is specifically designed for post-menopausal women.