Anastrozole (Generic Name)

Other Names: Arimidex®

About This Drug

Anastrozole is used to treat cancer. This drug is given orally.

Possible Side Effects (More Common)

  • Extreme tiredness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hot flashes
  • Muscle weakness
  • Back pain
  • Bone pain
  • Headache
  • Osteoporosis (weak or brittle bones)

Possible Side Effects (Less Common)

  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty catching your breath
  • Swelling of ankles

Sexual Problems and Reproductive Concerns

  • In men and women both, this drug may temporarily or permanently affect your ability to have children. This cannot be determined before your therapy. In men, this drug may interfere with your ability to make sperm, but it should not change your ability to have sexual relations. In women, menstrual bleeding may become irregular or stop while you are receiving this drug. Do not assume that you cannot become pregnant if you do not have a menstrual period. Women may experience signs of menopause like vaginal dryness or itching.
    • Pregnancy warning: This drug may have harmful effects on the unborn child, so effective methods of birth control should be used during your cancer treatment.
    • Speak with your doctor or nurse if you plan to have children.  Ask for information on sperm or egg banking.
    • Genetic counseling is available to you to discuss the effects of this drug therapy on future pregnancies. In addition, a genetic counselor can review the potential risks of problems in the fetus due to this medication if an exposure during pregnancy has occurred. 
    • Breast feeding warning: Women are advised not to breast feed during treatment because this drug could enter the breast milk and seriously harm a breast feeding infant.
    • Vaginal lubricants can be used to lessen vaginal dryness, itching, and pain during sexual relations.

Treating Side Effects

  • Ask your doctor or nurse about medication that is available to help prevent or lessen nausea and vomiting.
  • Drink 6-8 cups of fluids every day unless your doctor has told you to restrict your fluid intake due to another medical condition. A cup is 8 ounces of fluid. If you vomit or have diarrhea, you should drink more fluids so that you do not become dehydrated. 

Food and Drug Interactions

There are no known interactions of Anastrazole with food. This drug may interact with other medication. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the medication and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs and others) that you are currently taking. The safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements and alternative diets are often unknown. Using these might unexpectedly affect your cancer or interfere with your treatment. Until more is known, you should not use dietary supplements or alternative diets without your cancer doctor's advice.

Other Instructions

Your bone density and lipid panel may be monitored while on this medication. Discuss this with your doctor.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor or nurse immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Uncontrolled nausea that prevents you from eating or drinking
  • Vomiting more than three times in one day
  • Chest pain
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat (palpitations)

 

Notify your doctor or nurse as soon as possible if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Diarrhea of five or six stools in one day
  • Diarrhea with weakness or lightheadedness
  • Nausea unrelieved by prescribed medication
  • Pain in your arms or legs that is unrelieved by prescribed medication
  • Headache unrelieved by prescribed medication
  • Weight gain of five pounds or more in one week
  • Muscle weakness that interferes with normal activities
  • Abdominal pain
  • Persistent loss of appetite or loss of five pounds or more in one week
  • Extreme tiredness that interferes with normal activities
  • Rash that is bothersome

Revised November 2011

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