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Topic: Has anyone done well on aromasin?

Forum: Hormonal Therapy - Before, During, and After —

Hormonal therapy medicines can be used to lower the risk of early-stage hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer from coming back, shrink or slow the growth of advanced-stage or metastatic hormone-receptor-positive breast cancers, and lower the risk of developing breast cancer in certain women who are at high risk. They work by lowering the amount of estrogen in the body or by blocking the effect of estrogen on breast cancer cells.

There are several hormonal therapy medicines, including, tamoxifen (Nolvadex, Soltamox), Arimidex (anastrozole), Aromasin (exemestane), and Femara (letrozole).

Hormonal therapy is usually prescribed for multiple years. Common side effects include hot flashes, joint pain, fatigue, and bone thinning.

Note: This is a safe place to share YOUR experience, not to be influenced or influence others. Please contact your doctor about any questions or concerns you may have if you are currently taking hormonal therapy.

Intro medically reviewed by: Brian Wojciechowski, M.D.
Last review date: November 22, 2020

Posted on: Aug 8, 2008 09:06PM

swinn wrote:

After 2 years on Femara and every SE you can get I had. I called my onc 2 months ago and he said to go off it and see if the symptoms go away. Well, they did. I feel much better. Today during my appointment he told me he really wants to see me on something and would I please try Aromasin? He's worried about my reoccurance rate. It goes from 7 or 8% taking an AI to 15-20% not taking an AI in a 10 yr. period. He said I  have a mixed bag of bc and since the surgeon didn't get clean margins the first time and had to do a 2nd surgery, he was concerned about reoccurance. I was stage 1 grade 1 and had radiation. Didn't need chemo. No lymph node involvement. Problem is now I"m scared to death to try this aromasin. Do you know myocardial infraction is a SE?  Also depression, insomnia, etc and I already have a hard time in this area. I thought I had made up my mind I was going for quality of life because I couldn't stand to live like that but now I don't know. I'm so confused. I'm almost 3 years out from my surgery and radiation. Now my onc wants to do a breast MRI. He said they show the little things that a mammo misses.

Please let me know some of your thoughts and if some of you had no problems with aromasin or at least just a few.

Sally

Dx 12/2005, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Aug 8, 2008 10:09PM FitChik wrote:

Hi Sally....I can offer my own experience and my hope that you at least give Aromasin or something a try. I too am almost 3 years out from treatment, having had IDC and DCIS and tx'd with chemo, lumpectomy and rads. I started out with Arimidex, but had severe insomnia and joint pain and, so, switched to Aromasin. I will say that I had the same SEs with Aromasin, but I hung in there and eventually, within about a year, most of them subsided. I still get some joint aches, but have kind of learned to ignore them and I try to chalk them up to too much exercise. And speaking of exercise, I'm convinced that that, along with glucosamine and fish oil supplements, have really helped keep the SEs at bay.

I understand your reluctance to take something that will compromise your quality of life, even if for "only" a few months or years. After all, our experience with cancer tells us to embrace each day and how can one embrace a day that's full of pain and limited physical ability? But I would encourage you to give it a try and see if you can find a way to live with some possible discomfort.

Good luck with your decision. The bottom line is that it is YOUR life and YOUR decision.

~Marin

"Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim." ~Nora Ephron
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Aug 9, 2008 07:07AM swinn wrote:

Thank you FitChik. I need words of wisdom and help and I appreciate your response. I use to walk a lot using weights but since the bc can't seem to get back into anything. Always a reason.....too tired....too hot, etc. I don't know your age but I'm 64 and now feel like 84. I tried glucosamine one other time in my life but couldn't tell it helpled. I do believe the fish oil is good. My husband takes them everyday. I guess I should add it to my vitamin routine.

Sally

Dx 12/2005, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Aug 9, 2008 08:29AM FitChik wrote:

Sally...I'm 55 and extremely athletic and active, so it was very easy for me to continue exercising (I can't imagine my life w/o it). As for the glucosamine, it seems to take about  3 months or so to start working. I recall trying it about 10 years ago when a fellow skater claimed that it helped her stay flexible, but I gave up after a few weeks because I didn't notice anything.

I don't think that "exercising" is as important to keeping the joint pain in check as staying as active as possible. It's the movement, IMO, that is crucial because it keeps the juices flowing. So if you have some activity that you enjoy, even if it's vacuuming (!), you should try to incorporate it into your daily life. Also, little things like taking stairs instead of elevators and parking far away from the stores help in this effort. If you can afford it and the idea appeals to you, I'd suggest you invest in a Wii video program that has you playing sports such as bowling, baseball, tennis and golf (or boxing!) or the new Wii fitness programs. They're a total blast and you get exercise to boot! Just keep moving. There's plenty of time to "rest" when you reach 100. Or, as Nike encourages, JUST DO IT! Wink

~Marin

"Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim." ~Nora Ephron
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Aug 9, 2008 03:31PM bbmom wrote:

Sally,

My husband has been taking glucosamine for several years and swears he can tell if he misses a day of it. I will be switched from tamox to aromisan in November and am nervous about it. I haven't had too much problem with the tamox. I did start walking after my dx. Every once in a while I'll have trouble with my knee. When I do, I'll drink Joint Juice, it's just a form of glucosamine, and I do get relief within 24 hours.

"The Will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you." Dx 11/25/2009, ILC, Stage IV, Grade 2, 14/17 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Aug 9, 2008 07:58PM - edited Jul 9, 2010 09:56PM by Maire67

This Post was deleted by Maire67.
Dx 6/2005, ILC, Right, 5cm, Stage IIIB, metastasized to bone, 1/9 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ Hormonal Therapy Aromasin (exemestane), Faslodex (fulvestrant), Femara (letrozole) Surgery Lymph node removal; Mastectomy Chemotherapy AC + T (Taxol) Targeted Therapy Herceptin (trastuzumab)
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Aug 9, 2008 09:41PM swinn wrote:

Thanks guys. I have the prescription ready to send to Express Scripts on Mon. I guess I'll give it a try. Maybe I should head things off with starting glucosamine and fish oil now. I already have the fish oil. Hubby takes it everyday. If the weather would just stay a little cooler like it is right now in PA I could start my walks again. I hate the heat and can't stand to walk in it. That seems to be something that bothers me if I'm on an AI or not. I'm just hot and sweaty if I do anything to move. I take Effexor XR too but that just made me worse. I know some take it for the hot flashes.

Sally

Dx 12/2005, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Aug 10, 2008 08:52PM - edited Aug 10, 2008 08:53PM by swinn

Can anyone tell me if they lost weight while on Aromasin? Does this ever happen? Can I expect to get sick in my stomach? Femara changed my taste buds. Things didn't taste the same but I couldn't lose any weight. I truly need a weight loss and exercise program to work with. I hate joining gyms....so that is out but does anyone have any other suggestions? I'm busy but I need something to get me kick started. Did curves work for anyone? Any help would be apreciated.

 Thank you,

Sally

Dx 12/2005, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Aug 10, 2008 10:40PM MargaretB wrote:

Sally, I have been on aromosin for almost a year now after a few years on tamoxifen.  The side effects I experience with aromosin are the same I had with tamoxifen - joint pain, sore feet and hands.  However, I treat it as a nuisance - it's not enough to keep me from doing anything.  As far as weight loss, well, that's a lost cause for me.  I just quit the gym because I wasn't going and $78 a month is too much to pay when I'm not going, especially when i have a gym at work that is free.   I have started walking wtih my hubby after I get off work - we usually walk four miles.  To get me started, I did a few sessions of exercise boot camp, which I liked because it is outside and you work at your own pace and you could see definite results - it was 3 or 4 days a week for 6 weeks.  I also had a personal trainer for a few weeks.  Those all helped.  I did Curves - 30 minutes is great, in and out, but I got bored with it.  Oh, I couldn't do glucosamine and chondroiton because it gave me massive headaches.  Good luck.

Dx 12/23/04, Bilateral w/tram 3/10/05, DD chemo 5/12/05, finished 6/26/05
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Aug 11, 2008 01:48AM AnnNYC wrote:

Sally, I've been taking aromasin since June 2007.  The first six months weren't good.  But since Jan 2008, I have lost 25 pounds, and my joints feel much better.  I think fish oil capsules (started in March) made a major difference with both the joint pain and in helping the weight loss, not to mention helping mood and memory.  My weight loss has really been a happy side effect of trying to bring "pre-diabetes" under control: I tried to completely cut out "white" carbs like junk food, white flour, white sugar...  I try to eat five or six 300-calorie "meals" a day of low-glycemic index, high soluble fiber foods: whole grains, legumes, vegetables, lean protein.  It's amazing how full you feel on 1500 or 1800 high-nutrition calories spread out in 5 or 6 "meals" a day instead of 3.  It doesn't feel like dieting or deprivation.

PLEASE make sure you're taking calcium (probably should be calcium citrate) and vitamin D supplements while on an AI.  This did not register with me when I started aromasin (I'm trying not to think "my onc didn't tell me" -- but let's just say she didn't press the point until a whole year had gone by).  I know someone else who also "missed" that part of the instructions.  Maybe it's the oncs, maybe it's me and this other woman with BC, maybe it was all of us being more focused on cancer than osteoporosis -- but we need to pay attention to our bone health, too!

Dx 3/9/2007, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Aug 12, 2008 08:27AM WhiteRockGirl wrote:

Sally

Looks like you got a lot of good input already. I will add my experience: I am on Aromasin since May 2006. I will be finished in Nov of 2009, did the other 20 months on tamoxifen. I had all of the SE's previously mentioned early on. They got better for the most part after 6 months or so. The hot flashes have continued unabated. I just deal with them. Did have to go on Vagifem recently for vaginal dryness that got extreme. I do have some osteoporosis beginning in my spine only. Just taking my calcium at this point, the osteoporosis is not so bad it needs further treatment.

Good luck, keep in touch if you have more SE questions. You can always stop the Aromasin if it is a problem for you.

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Aug 12, 2008 11:03PM - edited Aug 12, 2008 11:04PM by swinn

Thanks again everyone. I went onto the aromasin website and asked for a month's free supply. They said they would e-mail the voucher to me in a few days. I thought if I'm just going to try it for a month I'd get the free voucher. The onc has already written me a script for it. I went and got some glucosamine today and started taking them plus the fish oil. Sure hope I can keep ahead of it this time. I do take my calcium citrate and vitamin D everyday. I thought I'd try AnnNYC's advice and eat low on the glycemic chart and eat smaller meals more often. I was pretty good the last 2 days. I'm just real stiff when I get up in the morning and I'm not even on an AI right now. I hope the glucosamine helps but will have to give it time. Hopefully I'll get back into walking as the weather stays cooler.

Did you girls feel the hot flashes were worse on Aromasin than Femara? I'm not looking forward to that. I'm so hot all the time it's awful. I'm actually looking forward to winter except for the cost of heating. We used wood last year but that just makes the house hotter.

Did anyone read the new information about your reocurrance rate for bc not being lowered that much in 5 or 10 yrs?  Of course the trials were mostly with Tamoxifen. Kind of discouraging. Guess this bc just hangs over us once we've had it whether we like it or not.

Sally

Dx 12/2005, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Aug 13, 2008 03:13PM - edited Aug 13, 2008 03:15PM by KC1

I *thought* I was doing ok on it up until this past May.  Now days, my hands, fingers, feet, toes, ankles and knees ache!  I've recently learned my CTS most likely is caused by  Aromasin.  And here I've been seeing an Orthopedic!   I don't like this... and, I've lost my flexibility! UGH!   This stuff is almost "crippling" me!

Dx 10/10/2006, ILC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Aug 14, 2008 10:37PM gma5279 wrote:

My onc. just switched me from Arimidez to Aromasin in July because there was a slight progression of my bone mets. Well, before I switched I had NO pains or twinges what so ever, but since I've been on the Aromasin I'm having joint pain as well as some sharp or shooting pains around the areas of my bone mets (the hip and end of tail bone), they come and go. I don't know if it's that the Aromasin is not working or if the Aromasin is actually causing it. I know joint pain is a side effect, but not sure about the shooting pain. Has anyone experienced anything similar?

Gina Dx 12/1998, IDC, 1cm, Stage IV, Grade 2, 1/14 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Aug 27, 2008 11:25AM kkerner wrote:

I've been on Aromasin for about 8 weeks (on Arimidex for 7 wks before)   Up til now the joint pain was much better than on Arimidex.  I'd been having numbness, usually only in the morning for 5-15 minutes, usu. only in one hand or foot.  But this morning it lasted several hours, woke me up, and I also had bad pains in my arm/elbow (same side as numb hand)  anyone else having trouble with numbness and joint pain on Aromasin?

Karen Kerner Dx 11/11/2007, IDC, 4cm, Stage IIB, Grade 2, 1/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Aug 28, 2008 03:48PM Mahomet_mom wrote:

I started Arimidex earlier in the summer after my radiation.  Things were okay for about 5 weeks.  Then I developed an allergic reaction.  (Swelling of lips, chin..chest tightness).  This has happened in the past with some other prescription drugs.   Went on prednisone and off the AI.  Things settled down and I started Arimidex.  Within three days I had another allergic reaction.  Back on prednisone and off the drug.  

In the past, I experienced these anaphylactic reactions with blood pressure medication.  They did tests then and could not find a culprit like nuts or pollen acting as a trigger. I became 'hypersenstive' and began a 3 year period where I had severe allergic reactions to seven or eight different hypertension medications. 

 I will go back to see my oncologist in a few weeks. 

Has anyone else had allergic reactions to any of these hormone treatments?  Suggestions?  I am concerned.

Dx 2/2/2008, IDC, 2cm, Stage II, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Aug 28, 2008 04:12PM sam52 wrote:

I switched to aromasin after 2.5 years on tamoxifen, which made me feel achy, mainly in the muscles. However.......with aromasin - I've had NO side effects :and I've been taking it for 3 years now.I also lost weight (mainly due to becoming active again),have a very active sex-life and feel great! So as far as I'm concerned, aromasin has been a walk in the park!

Hope this gives you the confidence to give it a try.

Sam

dx Oct 2001 IDC 1.6cm, stage II, grade 3, 3/11 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Aug 28, 2008 05:15PM swinn wrote:

Sam, That is wonderful. I could only hope for the same. Sally

Mahomet, The only med I am allergic to is penicillin. Never heard of anyone being allergic to an AI but that doesn't mean they aren't. Hope you find out something to help from your onc.

Just had my breast MRI today. They had to stick me 6 times for the IV to give me the contrast. Finally they got it in a little vein and when he gave me the contrast my arm swelled all up. That's happened to me before when I was in the hospital and had an IV. I guess the vein is either to small or breaks and the meds go into the tissues. I managed to finish the MRI because it was right at the end this happened but my arm was swelled for hours. It feels much better now. He said the  contrast went through because he could see it. Now for the dreaded waiting on the results. I just hope my onc calls tomorrow or I'll have to wait till after the Labor Day weekend. They told me at the hospital the radiologist would have them read today and sent to my doctor.

Sally

Dx 12/2005, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Aug 28, 2008 09:59PM VickiTN wrote:

I've been taking Aromasin for about 2 months now and so far I've not had any side effects to speak of. I tried Femara before the Aromasin and I had terrible joint pain and swelling with the Femara. 

vicki

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Aug 31, 2008 09:39PM vdallasstephens wrote:

After successful surgery (lumpectomy and positive node removal)  I underwent chemo and radiation. I took Tamoxifen for close to two years (achy all the time), and was switched to Aromasin (achier, more sleepless nights, fuzzy thinking, and mood swings). My hair thinned, too. I have been cancer-free for five years, now.  One of Aromasin's side effects is hypertension, so I am now on medication for that after having low blood pressure all my adult life. Another is high cholesteral - mine has risen. Low libido, dry vaginal tissue, and fatigue are among my complaints. My gynecologist prescribed an estrogen cream to help reduce the sexual side effects.  

My oncologist told me that there is a medication for every one of the side effects that may occur, and that I should stay on the drug. She talks about the slight risk of recurrence and the hope that there might be a slight improvement in outcome if I stay on Aromasin, but I have begun to weigh quality of life as well as longevity. I would like to know just what the risk of recurrence is versus the benefit of this drug. I have changed my life style since my bout with cancer, eating mostly organic, and exercising. I watch my weight and have reduced stress in my life.

Dx 10/2002, ILC, 2cm, Stage II, 3/14 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Sep 1, 2008 12:00PM pamfenton wrote:

I lost about half of my very thick hair in the six mos on aromasin.  Sick, seeing 100 hair on your bed pillow. The came the consitpation, I mean , SEVERE, and arthritic fingers.  I am a nurse and it took me six mos to figure out it was the drug.  so, back on tamoxifen.  It is amazing how differently we react to these drugs and a blessing there are more than one.  Now I am back to night sweats, and middle of night stripping of bed clothes and covers.  Still, usually an amusing thing to survey in the morning, ..."How did I do that?"

Dx 5/17/2005, IDC, 4cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 1/10 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Sep 3, 2008 10:12AM swinn wrote:

Just got an e-mail from my onc. Results of MRI..... NO SUSPICIOUS AREAS IN EITHER BREAST. YIPPEE!  I didn't think I was worrying that much about it but when I got his e-mail I could actually feel a great relief. Guess it just hangs over us whether we are conscious of it or not.

Sally Smile

Dx 12/2005, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-

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