What is Anastrozole (Arimidex)?
Anastrozole is used to treat some specific kinds of breast cancer.Some doctors apply this medicine for treating some other conditions as well. It is an aromatase inhibitor and helps to decrease concentrations of blood estradiol that will eventually inhibit the growth and size of the tumor.
Arimidex, also known as Liquidex or Anastrozole, is classified best as an aromatase inhibitor and is recommended all over the world by medical practitioners. It is mainly recommended as an adjuvant treatment in case of women undergoing menopause and afflicted by a disease called “hormone receptor-positive” breast cancer in early stage or metastatic breast cancer. Please also note that Arimidex should not be prescribed for premenopausal women with endocrine status, and also for individuals having hypersensitivity to Arimidex.
Anastrozole can be termed as a hormonal treatment or called a hormonal therapy; it is not a cytotoxic chemotherapy. This works mainly by reducing estrogen amount generated by your body.
How does Anastrozole work?
Estrogens mainly stimulate and maintain the growth of most cancers that occur in the breast. In case of postmenopausal women, estrogens get derived mainly as a result of the action of the aromatase enzyme, and this gets converted to androgens and adrenal known as testosterone and androstenedione generally to estradiol and estrone. So if the biosynthesis of estrogen in peripheral tissue or other cancer tissue can be suppressed, it will prevent breast cancer growth and this can be achieved by inhibition of aromatase enzyme basically.
Anastrozole is basically a non-steroidal selective aromatase inhibitor. It can lower serum estradiol concentrations significantly with no detectable effect information for aldosterone or adrenal corticosteroids.
Use of Anastrozole in bodybuilding
Arimidex is a trade name coined by the pharmaceutical company the drug called Anastrozole. Majority of bodybuilders prefer taking this drug as it can inhibit the estrogen synthesis (it’s used in the so-called PCT, post cycle therapy). When bodybuilders use “anabolic androgenic steroids” some specific compounds aromatize to estrogen. If the level of estrogen is not restricted by use of Aromatase inhibitor, it may result in high-estrogen side effect and the most common of this symptom is the development of ‘gyno’ or ‘man breasts’. Another lesser known side effect happens due to water retention, giving a bloated look and it can damage a good physique. Internally, if you carry excess water weight around it will strain the lipid of the body across the board. A person may also expect an increase in his blood pressure reading, loss of energy and heart strain. Moreover high estrogen level in man can affect libido adversely.
If you are very aggressive and determined to reduce estrogen level, on the other hand, you may use compounds which is chemically harsher than Anastrozole or Arimidex, and it may cause to drop your estrogen level too low. A man can suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED), depression, loss of energy, and low libido as a result of this.
Anastrozole is a very effective drug to combat estrogen-related concerns as it is an aromatase inhibitor blocking aromatase enzyme and prevents estrogen production to a great extent.
Advantage of Arimidex
The main benefit in intake and use of Arimidex as compared to a SERM, such as tamoxifen or Nolvadex, is the fact that Arimidex can block aromatase enzyme level; thereby preventing the estrogen production at first place. When you compare you see that Tamoxifen hinders the estrogen receptors to receive estrogen hormone, instead of inhibiting production at source. So you still have Estrogen hormone floating in your body when SERM is used.
The half-life for anastrozole is about forty-six hours, and it has a tendency to build up in the system when used every day.
Application of Anastrozole
Anastrozole is usually taken orally without or with food, generally one time a day, or the way your doctor has prescribed. This medication must be taken daily to get the most amount of benefit from it and preferably it should be taken at the same time each day for maximum results.
Generally, a leaflet of extra patient information is found with Anastrozole. You can talk to the pharmacist in case you have a query about this.
You must continue taking anastrozole even when you feel well without missing any doses. If you have missed the dose of this medication, it should be taken at the soonest. And in case you have reached the time for next dose, you must skip the missed one and continue with your normal dosing routine, avoid taking two doses at the same time.
The dose should not be increased or the frequency of taking this medication must not be enhanced without doctor’s advice. The main reason being this will not improve your condition any quicker and alongside it will increase the risk of some serious side effects. This drug gets absorbed through the skin, so it is advisable that pregnant women or those who may get pregnant do not break or handle tablets of this medicine.
It is known that recommended dosage for Arimidex is usually one tablet of 1 mg daily or as instructed by a medical practitioner. The doses must not be modified at your own will, as some patients do and a strict management and regulation of qualified medical practitioner must be followed. It is very important to note that Arimidex must not be blended with some other therapies for breast cancer like Tamoxifen. It is worthy of mention that Arimidex overdose may lead to certain side effects like depression, hypertension, insomnia, nausea, arthritis, and headache. Arimidex must be stored at a very controlled room temperature around 25C or 77F and excursions with a permissible limit of 15to 30C or 59 to 86F. Arimidex may be said as some wonder drug but must be used with proper medical advice and used for legal purposes like treating breast cancer.
Conditions treated by Anastrozole
Anastrozole oral mainly treat certain particular breast cancer condition like “Hormone Receptor Positive Breast Cancer” and “metastatic breast carcinoma”. It is also used to cure or prevent breast cancer in case of high-risk woman and cancer condition for the ovary.
Before using anastrozole:
Few medical conditions interact with Anastrozole. So you must make your doctor or physical practitioner aware if you are under any of the following conditions:
- if you are breastfeeding, or are pregnant, or plan to get pregnant anytime soon
- if you take any kind of non-prescribed or prescribed medicine, dietary supplement or herbal formulation
- if you are having a history for thin or weak bones(osteoporosis), liver problems, ischemic heart disease where blood vessel or heart problems occur or increased lipid or cholesterol levels.
- if you suffer from allergic conditions to a certain food, medicines or other substances
If you are in taking Estrogen-consisting products like some birth control tablets or therapies for hormone replacement and also tamoxifen since it may lessen the effectiveness of this drug.
This list provided above may not be an exhaustive list of all interactions that can take place. Ask your health care provider if Anastrozole may interact with other medicines that you take. It is a must that you should check with the healthcare provider once before starting, stopping, or changing the medicinal dose.
Usage and Indications for AnastrozoleFirst-Line Treatment
Anastrozole tablets are used for first-line treatment and prevention for women in the postmenopausal state having hormone receptor or hormone receptor-positive’.
- Adjuvant Treatment
Anastrozole tablets indicated basically for adjuvant treatment in case of postmenopausal women having hormone receptor-positive’ early breast cancer.
- Second-Line Treatment
Anastrozole tablets are also used in treating breast cancer of advanced stage in postmenopausal women having disease progression after tamoxifen therapy. But reports and studies show that patients having ER-negative disease who have not responded to earlier tamoxifen therapy will rarely respond to Anastrozole tablets.
- Patients with Hepatic Impairment
There are no dosage changes recommended for patients suffering from moderate-to-mild hepatic impairment. Anastrozole tablet usage in patients having severe hepatic impairment is still not done.
Some possible anastrozole side effects:
Every medicine has some side effects or the other. Anastrozole may lead to certain side effects in some cases or it may not. You must immediately report to your medical expert in case some common side effect continues or gets bothersome. Some known side effects are, bone, Back breast, joint, and muscle pain, cough, constipation, dizziness, hair loss, diarrhea, flu symptoms with muscle tiredness or aches, hot flashes, headache, appetite loss, nausea, mild stomach pain, stomach upset, sore throat, sleep patterns, trouble, vaginal dryness, weakness, vomiting and weight gain. But this list of side effects may not be complete that occurs. Consult your doctor if any medical advice is needed for side effects.
To list a few more consitions that may intercat with intake of this drug are Exterme allergic reactions like rash, hives, itching; tightness in chest; difficulty in swallowing or breathing; burning, swelling of the face, mouth, throat, lips or tongue; unusual hoarseness in voice; numbness or tingling in calf or leg pain, chest pain; tenderness; fainting; confusion; fever, persistent soring of throat; chills, mood or mental changes like depression; painful and frequent urination; one-sided weakness; numb arm or leg; persistent or severe bone pain; swollen, red, blistered, peeling skin; persistent or severe dizziness and headache; shortness of breath; persistent and severe weakness or tiredness; speech problems; skin ulcers, lesions or blisters; unusual and sudden weight gain; lymph nodes swollen; high blood calcium levels symptoms like change in quantity of urine excreted; increase of thirst; irregular heartbeats; mood changes; muscle weakness or aches; Continuous and severe vomiting or constipation; liver problems symptoms of like yellowing of eyes or skin; severe or persistent nausea, dark urine, stomach pain and vomiting; pain, tingling, coldness, weakness in the wrists, fingers, or hands; vaginal bleeding and unusual discharge; vision changes and a general fee of being unwell.
This may not be a complete list of side effects that can take place. When you have some query about side effects, please contact a proper health care provider or calling a doctor to get medical advice on side effects is recommended.
In ATAC trial, most common adverse reaction reported (>0.1%) which leads to discontinuing therapy for treatment was mainly hot flashes. But statistics show that very few patients decided to discontinue this therapy due to hot flashes results in Anastrozole group. Clinical trials have been conducted under many diverse and varying conditions, and adverse reaction rates are observed in clinical trials for a drug that cannot be compared directly to rates in clinical trials for other drug and it may not be able to reflect rates that are observed in practice.
Proper storage of anastrozole:
Anastrozole must be stored at room temperature, around 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit or 20 to 25 degrees C, in some airtight container. It must be kept away from moisture, heat, and light. Never store in the bathroom and keep anastrozole away from children and pets.
Safety information about the drug:
Anastrozole can result in dizziness and this effect can worsen if taken with certain medicines or alcohol and it may be used cautiously. You must not drive or do any other unsafe task after intake of the medicine as you do not know how it will react.
Women having a history of heart arteries blockage like in ischemic heart condition may find an increase in the symptom of reduced blood flow to the heart. You must immediately consult a doctor once you feel worsening chest pain or feel short of breath while you are in the process of taking Anastrozole.
Anastrozole reduces estrogen hormone level in the body that may result in causing to make your bones weaker and softer. This can increase the chance for fractures in bone, especially in hip, spine, and wrist. Any questions must be discussed with a doctor.
Certain lab tests, such as blood cholesterol level, liver function, bone mineral density, can be done while you are using anastrozole. These tests can be used for monitoring the condition or checking side effects.
Since safety or effectiveness of this drug in children is not yet confirmed so it should not be administered to kids.
Anastrozole has been found harmful to the foetus, so it is not to be taken before or during pregnancy.
Do not use this information for deciding whether you should take or not take anastrozole or for that matter any medicine. Only a registered doctor or health care provider possesses the training and knowledge in deciding the right medicines for you.
Sol Ruiz heads our Research Digest department. He graduated from the New York University where he obtained his Master’s Degree in Public Health.