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Tamoxifen and aging

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Has anyone noticed an accelerated aging process while being on tamoxifen?

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  • moderators
    moderators Posts: 8,089
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    Hi @waves2stars, would love a little more detail about what you're experiencing so others can weigh in wieth their perspectives.

    Also, we thought you might find this article interesting:

    We hope this helps!

    —The Mods

  • waves2stars
    waves2stars Member Posts: 123
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    Well, I was one way a year before dx, muscular, energetic, quick thinking and with a pretty good memory. Now my muscle mass is just gone, crazy bad memory and cognitive processing, and tired. People I haven’t seen in a year are startled when they see what I look like, and it isn’t normal in my family at all. I expect to get tired and old, but this is much faster than what the people in my family experience. There are side effects from tamoxifen like joint pain, hair thinning, dry skin, etc, but I’m not talking about that. I have another cancer dx that is advanced, so maybe it has more to do with the toll two cancers took on my mind and body, but there was a marked difference the month after I started tamoxifen.

  • maggie15
    maggie15 Member Posts: 953
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    Hi @waves2stars, I had bounced back from several illnesses and surgeries in the recent past so I was surprised when I didn’t completely recover from breast cancer treatment. I haven’t taken tamoxifen or AIs so that is not the cause but I did have complications from radiation. It was a bit of a shock when my medical notes showed an ECOG score of 1 and a KPS score of 80 when they had previously been 0 and 100. Many others manage to return to their pre bc treatment level of functioning but in spite of my efforts I haven’t been able to.

    I exercise to the best of my ability and PT, acupuncture and meds have helped some. While I would prefer to be hiking in the woods and on trails I now have to walk on fairly level paved surfaces.; at least I can do that. I have accepted the fact that while I’ll do what I can there are some things that are out of our control. It’s worth seeking help to try to improve your symptoms (maybe trying an AI instead of tamoxifen) but don’t beat yourself up if you have to live with a new normal.

  • waves2stars
    waves2stars Member Posts: 123
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    @maggie15 What complications did you have from radiation? And how did you decide no hormone therapy?

  • maggie15
    maggie15 Member Posts: 953
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    I ended up with radiation induced pulmonary fibrosis. It is pretty rare and my pulmonologist told me that a lung cancer RO would have seen the red flags in my medical history (upper GI bleed and Barrett's esophagus) and recommended against radiation. I decided not to use HT since I am also at risk for esophageal cancer and estrogen is protective for this. Also, since I had grade 3/4 ILD AEs there are very few treatments I could use in the event of progression. AIs and SERDs are relatively safe while CDK4/6 inhibitors are moderately risky. Everything else could be deadly so I'm avoiding ER resistance in the event I need something. Most people have many other options so my reasoning wouldn't apply.

  • waves2stars
    waves2stars Member Posts: 123
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    @maggie15 what a crazy experience!!! My onc said since I had a mx and was early stage I didn’t need radiation. Two other oncs later shook their heads at this, but I ended up with lung cancer a year later and needed radiation that they would not have been able to administer if I had previous breast radiation. Sometimes unorthodox treatment works better, and thankful there are clinicians out there who are willing to treat us on an individual basis!

  • maggie15
    maggie15 Member Posts: 953
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    @waves2stars , It was indeed fortunate that you could have radiation for the lung cancer. My pulmonologist said that RIPF upped my risk for lung cancer and in jest told me to make sure any future cancer occurred elsewhere since all treatments (surgery, chemo, radiation, targeted therapy) were just as deadly as the disease for those with ILD. I guess we just move forward and hope for the best.

  • monarchandthemilkweed
    monarchandthemilkweed Member Posts: 155
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    yes I do feel like cancer treatment acceleates aging. I think for me primarily is being in menopause before I naturally would. It’s very hard to not having any estrogen. My ovaries were removed. On top of that I’m on an arimidex. My sister died from cancer in Sept. so the stress of her cancer,mine. The pandemic. And then her death I also think contributes. My worries and stressors are not of my peers. I am mourning my sister who died before her time. She was 48. So much talk now about HRT for menopause. And not much talk for people like us still in active treatment. I consider arimidex active treatment. Anyhow. I am so sorry about your second cancer diagnosis. We went through breast cancer treatment at the same time. Much love to you. It’s all so unfair

  • waves2stars
    waves2stars Member Posts: 123
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    @monarchandthemilkweed For sure one of the hardest “trivial” things for me to adjust to was aging faster than my mother and aunts. I remember when they were my current age and were so strong and beautiful, and had such courage and freedom in their lives, and I thought getting to 50 would open a new door for me. But no, rapid aging, literal loss of strength, loss of that joy of life got me first, and I’m more like my grandma at 70. It doesn’t feel fair to get cancer and skip the good parts about aging naturally.

    What’s really not fair is getting cancer, and your sister getting cancer, and losing her to cancer. I am so, so sorry about your sister! She was so young! I can’t begin to imagine how hard it is to go though the cancer journey without her with you. And how there is that added specter of fear because you both had cancer. I hope you’ve got people around you to soften the grief a little.

  • monarchandthemilkweed
    monarchandthemilkweed Member Posts: 155
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    thank you wavestostars! Yes I do have wonderfully supportive people around me. My husband is so patient with me. But our relationship has changed so much too. Between all the grief and trauma. The changes in my body. The lack of estrogen. Nothing is as it was. I don’t know how to fix it. Again something else I feel lonely in life about. I can’t talk to any of my in real life friends about the lack of sex life.

    Anyhow, I hope the same for you. That you have wonderfully supportive people around you too.

  • waves2stars
    waves2stars Member Posts: 123
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    @monarchandthemilkweed The effect all that has on you and your relationships is unreal. I think there’s a kind of grieving process for what we thought our life was going to be before cancer. Speaking of grief, have you been able to chat with a therapist who specializes in oncology patients, or a loss group? It can really help you get your bearings. I don’t think you can “get back” to who you were because you’re in a new world, but you can find peace and fulfillment again. I have to say I miss badly the days when my husband thought I was sexy, but after nearly three years of him assisting in my recovery from surgeries and all my healthcare needs, he’s clearly the caregiver and I the patient. Add the tamoxifen issues to the mix and I can’t really blame him. It’s really beautiful the way he loves me now, but my looks and energy levels aren’t making him sweat, lol!

    There are certain things I have to accept because of my physical and prognostic situation, but you are still young and shouldn’t give up the parts that are important to you without a fight. If your cancer center has palliative care or offer integrative care, they can help manage some of the side effects of the treatment you’ve had. I’m glad you have a tribe to support you!