In this session, we will be discussing the consumer medication information for anastrozole, trade name ArimidexTM.

What it’s for & How to take

Anastrozole works by decreasing the production of estrogen in your body. Breast cancer tumors usually require estrogen for growth. By blocking the body’s supply of estrogen, the tumor may slow or even reverse in its growth.

Anastrozole is used to treat post-menopausal breast cancer. This medication is sometimes prescribed for other conditions. If you are using this medication for a condition other than breast cancer, discuss this with your doctor.

Anastrozole is usually taken once daily, with or without food, or as directed by your physician. Your specific dosage is based on your clinical condition and response to therapy.

If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of your next dose, skip it and continue with your normal dose time. Do not take a double dose to make up the missed dose.

You may need to take this medication for several years, even if you feel better. Do not decrease your dose or stop taking your medication without talking with your doctor.

While taking anastrozole, your doctor may have you go to the laboratory for some specific tests such as bone density, cholesterol levels, and liver function tests. These tests are necessary to see how your body is tolerating this medication.

Warnings & Cautions

  • Do not take anastrozole if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. This medication is only to be used in women after menopause. If you are taking this medication and have recently gone through menopause, discuss with your doctor which is the most reliable, non-estrogen, form of birth control for you to use. If you think you might be pregnant, contact your doctor immediately.
  • This medication may be absorbed through the skin or into the lungs if the pill dust is inhaled. Because this medication affects the level of estrogen in your body, women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should not handle this medication.
  • This medication may make you dizzy, drowsy, or blur your vision. Do not drive or do any activity that requires focus and attention until you are sure you can do them safely. Limit alcoholic beverages while taking anastrozole.
  • Rarely this medication may cause a clot to form which may lead to a heart attack or stroke. Call emergency 911 if you have any symptoms of a heart attack such as chest and left arm pain, shortness of breath and sweating or if you have symptoms of a stroke such as weakness on one side of your body, slurred speech, sudden vision changes, and confusion.

Interactions & Side Effects

  • Tell your pharmacist or doctor all your medication allergies so they may determine if anastrozole is safe for you to take.
  • Avoid dangerous drug interactions. Tell your pharmacist or doctor all the other medication you are taking, including over the counter supplements, even if you don’t take them very often.

Interactions & Side Effects Cont.

  • Ask your doctor if this medication is safe to take with your current health conditions. Tell your doctor if you have liver or kidney disease, high cholesterol, any heart problems or any bone disease such as osteoporosis.
  • While taking anastrozole, you may feel some hot flashes, hair loss, joint and muscle pain, and perhaps some nausea. If these or any other unwanted side effects persist, contact your doctor or pharmacist to talk about it with them.
  • Call your doctor right away if you have any sudden numbness or weakness, severe headache or confusion, swollen glands, or a fractured bone.

If you have any questions about what you have heard, contact your pharmacist or doctor. This session does not include all the potential interactions or side effects that this medication may cause. Ask your pharmacist how your medication should be stored and how you should dispose of it when you are done taking it. Do not share your medication with anyone, ever. Remember, this is not meant to replace your counseling session with your pharmacist. In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

Updated 7/20