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Topic: How long for Femara to work?

Forum: Stage IV and Metastatic Breast Cancer ONLY — A place for those managing the ups & downs of a Stage IV/metastatic breast cancer diagnosis. Please respect that this forum is for Stage IV members only or those posting on behalf of a Stage IV patient. There is a separate forum for Stage IV Caregivers/Family in "Support and Community Connections".

Posted on: May 27, 2010 08:14PM

raro wrote:

I am currently on Femara for about a month now, after failure of both Abraxane and Xeloda. I had been on tamoxifen for 4 years after my initial stage III diagnosis but stopped it when it came back. After doing the chemo and rads, the dr. said, "You know, just because tamox failed you doesn't mean you can't try another hormonal. Since chemo hasn't really worked, let's try Femara."

Okay, fine. But for the first time these past few weeks I have been feeling pain in the spine where the tumors are. Before, I hadn't felt anything. Well, I know they progressed from the scan in April, but it's kind of scary to actually feel it.

So my question is, could it just be that it takes time? I really hate that I could be feeling bad and the cancer could be improving, OR I could be feeling great and the cancer is progressing, there is no way to know. Sigh...How long does Femara take to "kick in"?!? Or is this a wash, already?

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Posts 1 - 7 (7 total)

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May 27, 2010 11:21PM mari55 wrote:

I can only speak for myself.  I started Femara ( along with Zometa) in January after finding mets to spine and hip.  I think I really started to notice a difference ( meaning decreased pain, feeling stronger etc... in April). Interestingly my improvement coincided with some hair loss and  increased hot flashes.  My tumor markers went down by 100 which indicates something  is working.  I think the Zometa is helping more with the decreased pain in my back ( I have compression fractures in T8 and 9) and x-rays of my hip which fractured and required pinning in January, show increased calcium deposition.    I have PET scans Tuesday so I guess I will find out then if all of this is doing the trick.   I sure hope you are feeling better soon.

DCIS 1999, R mastectomy. Mets to spine, sternum,ribs,and femurs Jan. 2010 and new primary on left, DCIS, Dec. 2009. I am not afraid of dying, I am afraid of not living Dx 1/11/2010, Stage IV, mets, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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May 28, 2010 01:38AM Lynn1 wrote:

Femara worked GREAT for me when I first started taking it....I went into remission (but not NED) in about 3 months.  That must be the magic number for hormone treatment because that is how often we scan. When I asked him about my latest one, which I've been taking about a month, he said it was too early to tell.  Like you, I have been having pain in the areas where the mets are and I have not had this before. When I asked about that, he said any new treatment can cause a "flare", but said again that it's too early to make any conclusions on if it is working or not.  Hope this helps.

~Lynn ER+, HER2- Bone mets: sternum, pelvis, spine, ribs....it's everywhere. Started Afinitor/Femara 10/15/12
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May 28, 2010 02:54AM nancyh wrote:

I don't have a scientific answer to your question, but I'll share my experience.  Since starting Femara I've had more twinges and random aches/pains, but after getting scan results today I feel like those twinges are because the treatment is working not because of progression.  I've been on Femara for about 2 months.

Also, my 75-year-old mom, who is also stage 4 has been on Femara for about 10 months and she is in complete remission.  She's never felt better.

I think I'm becoming a Femara evangelist.  :-)

Stage 4 in 2009, mets to liver, lungs, bones, and brain. Dx 8/12/2002, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIb, 3/12 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 4/2/2007, IDC, 1cm, Stage II, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 9/1/2009, IDC, Stage IV, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Chemotherapy 10/01/2002 Adriamycin, Cytoxan Chemotherapy 01/01/2003 Taxol Hormonal Therapy 05/01/2003 Tamoxifen Radiation Therapy 05/01/2003 External Surgery 05/01/2007 Mastectomy (Both) Chemotherapy 06/01/2007 Cytoxan, fluorouracil, methotrexate Surgery 05/01/2008 Reconstruction: Tissue expander placement, Latissimus Dorsi flap (Both) Chemotherapy 09/01/2009 Abraxane Targeted Therapy 09/01/2009 Avastin Hormonal Therapy 06/01/2010 Femara Chemotherapy 09/01/2011 Xeloda Hormonal Therapy 01/01/2012 Faslodex Chemotherapy 06/01/2012 Navelbine Chemotherapy 05/01/2013 Gemzar Hormonal Therapy 06/01/2013 Aromasin Targeted Therapy 08/01/2013 Afinitor Chemotherapy 10/28/2013 Halaven Chemotherapy 11/12/2014 Taxotere
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May 28, 2010 06:29AM Honeybear wrote:

I took Femara for almost 2 years and was doing pretty well.  I was better on the very first scan after starting it (3 months).  My doc says that's a pretty standard amount of time for the hormonals to start working.

As far as feeling pain in areas that you haven't felt before, I've had more pain sometimes when my scans are a little better.  My onc says that with bone mets, sometimes the mets are providing structural support and when they shrink, we have pain because new bone hasn't filled in that spot yet.  That kind of made sense to me.

I hope you feel good and that Femara kicks some cancer butt for you!

Peace and hugs,

Jennifer

Dx 8/16/2007, IDC, Stage IV, Grade 2, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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May 28, 2010 12:55PM raro wrote:

Thanks, guys, that really helps a lot. :-)

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May 28, 2010 01:10PM Lynn1 wrote:

Jennifer - thank you for sharing that about the bone mets! I had not heard that before, but it does make sense. 

~Lynn ER+, HER2- Bone mets: sternum, pelvis, spine, ribs....it's everywhere. Started Afinitor/Femara 10/15/12
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Jun 4, 2010 05:22PM tooyoungtohavebc wrote:

Hi raro,

I saw your post about pain meds so wanted to reply here. I also have mets to my bones in my back. Last year when I was on the super herceptin and zometa, I started having a lot of back pain and also had pain that ran from my lower spine down my leg...i self diagnosed as sciatica. At first I suspected it was the bone mets getting worse (as did my onc), but guess what...once I went off the chemo, the pain went away. So I told my doc that I think the drugs cause so much swelling that everything is pushing on each other in my back and causing pain and he agreed. So your pain might not be from the mets but from swelling due to the chemo etc. I took aleve for my pain and also got some hydrocodone which helped when things were real bad. Hope you are doing better:) nothing worse than frigging back pain!

Dx 6/2005, IDC, 6cm+, Stage IV, Grade 3, 1/7 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+