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Saturday, March 06, 2010 RVwoman, Community Member, asks

Q: How long should you stay on Arimidex? 5 yrs or 7 yrs?

I finished 5 yrs of daily (1mg) Arimidex 2/10. I have heard conflicting directions on staying for a total of 7 yrs, while others say stop at 5 yrs. I'm hoping to have a CBM (Contralateral Breast Mastectomy) on March 31st, and am staying on Arimidex this month.

 

Any ideas?

Elizabeth

ehhpiebiz@gmail.com

 

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Answers (2)
PJ Hamel, Health Guide
3/ 7/10 8:51am

Hi Elizabeth - It may vary, woman by woman. And the data isn't really compelte; it's still a very new drug, relatively speaking. But my oncologist, whom I trust very much (he's also a cutting-edge researcher), told me I can go off after 5 years. Hope this helps - PJH

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RVwoman, Community Member
3/ 7/10 12:41pm
Thanks for writing back P J! I'm so afraid of the Estrogen setting off a chain reaction, as the possibility of ONE errant cell starting to create havoc again, makes me tremble. I have my annual BC follow-up in a few weeks at M D Anderson, and since I'm hoping for the CBM on 3.31.10--I'm telling myself that staying on ARIMIDEX, through this surgery, might give me extra protection. Appreciate your time. Have a good day. Elizabeth, signing off outside of Albuquerque. 10:37am MST March 7, 2010 Reply
PJ Hamel, Health Guide
3/ 7/10 5:01pm

Hmmm... If the thought of being off Arimidex makes you tremble, then sure, stay on it, by all means. I just basically don't care anymore. Well, not that I don't care - but if cancer comes back, whatever. I'll deal with it. It doesn't scare me. So we're in somewhat different places. (And what's more, I'm in NH and you're in NM - yes, somewhat different places!Smile ) PJH

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RVwoman, Community Member
3/ 7/10 8:23pm

Thanks for your answer--hope you have a great week.

Elizabeth

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Auds, Community Member
6/21/10 5:50am

Hi!

My onco has suggested a 7 year period, but because of more extensive nodal spread has "strongly suggested" that I stay on it for a 10 year period.

I've only been on Arimidex for 4 months and the side effects are quite severe (joint pains in my fingers/hands, hips, knees, elbows).  Did you have this in the beginning, or still do, and if so, did the symptoms become better?

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
6/21/10 6:13am

Sounds reasonable - my oncologist says "3 nodes or fewer, 5 years; 4 nodes or more, 10 years." I had low to moderate joint pain starting maybe a year in, and it pretty much stayed the same throughout. Arimidex is notorious for joint pain; many women quit it because of pain. And there's no telling if it'll change as you go along - we each have our own experience. Hopefully, the pain will lessen for you as time goes on. Latest research also seems to show that 2 or 3 years of an AI followed by 2 or 3 years of tamoxifen is just as effective, so you may want to ask your doctor about that plan. Best of luck - PJH

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ellie, Community Member
12/ 6/12 9:35pm

I had a lumpectomy 2 years ago ...an estrogen based  lump as I was on a hormone for 12 years. My gyno said:"for quality of life". I never questioned it.A 10mm. lump was removed & I was lucky to not have to do radiation or chemo.

The side effects of the Arimidex are not good. Like you, I have joint pains & arthritis has set in . I'm sorry that you have nodule spread...Your age would be a factor.

I'm in my 70's & was told that it would take 10 yrs. for another lump to form. Yet, I'm afraid to not continue taking it. You have a long way to go for the 5-year period. My advice: Take it one day at a time. The good news is that we're here to think about it. GOOD LUCK!

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Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
12/ 7/12 6:19am

Ellie, thanks for adding your perspective on this issue.  Yes, it is good news that you have survived long enough to have to deal with this issue.  It is true that doctors estimate that most tumors grow for five or ten years before they are big enough to be detected.  If you were starting from no cancer cells, then that 5-10 years would be true for you.  But the doctors can't tell if you have a microscopic tumor already at year three or four.  If that is the case, the Armidex should stop or slow its growth.  And if you truly are currently cancer free, the Arimidex could stop a new cancer from forming.  Since so many women in their 70's have arthritis and joint pain, it would be hard to know how much of your pain is from Arimidex.  You could talk to your doctor about that possibility of stopping it for a month or two to see if you feel better, and then make a more informed decision.  If the side effects are tolerable for you, continuing on the drug can give you peace of mind that you are doing everything you can to prevent a recurrence. 

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By RVwoman, Community Member— Last Modified: 12/11/12, First Published: 03/06/10