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Avatar universal

Tamoxifen and Arimidex

I had a bilateral mastectomy one year ago.  I was stage II and had 36 lymph nodes removed in a second surgery.  All of which were negative (one node was found to have a spec of cancer during the initial surgery - doctor called it a floater).  I underwent 6 rounds of chemotherapy which ended last April.  

The breast cancer was only in my right breast, however the doctor said the MRI reflected that the left side didn't look normal - things were changing.    I did tell the doctor both sides felt the same and I had quite a bit of tingling. That is why I opted for the bilateral.   If the floater cancer cell wouldn't have occurred, I would not have had to have the chemotherapy.

I have been taking Tamoxifen for a couple of months now, following chemotherapy.

Last week the doctor had me switch to Arimidex as I had not had a period for one year.  After taking it for a couple of days I was not feeling very well.  I was having stomach discomfort, irratibility and swelling in my hands.  I received a call from the doctor's office telling me not to take the Arimidex and return to Tamoxifen as my hormone levels suggested that I wasn't in menopause quite yet.

How do these two drugs work differently?  I guess I really have been having trouble understanding what they do for me?

Also, If i would stop taking either one due to side effects, what  type of risk is that for the cancer to return?

I feel having had the bilateral mastectomy, chemotherapy and no additional positive lymph nodes discovered - why do I need this drug?

Thank you for your time.
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638895 tn?1223066826
Hi,
I too was taking Tamoxifen and then was switched to Arimidex and then Aromasen.  I am now back on Tamoxifen.  I had so many problems with the other meds.  I am very sensative to meds and the later 2 did not work.  I have a few problems with Tamoxifen but it is better than the others for me.
My Dr. said that it is not a problem being in "forced" menopause and the fact that I had a hysterectomy as well.
One thing we always have to remember is that we are our own advocate...don't ever stop from speaking up for yourself if you feel something is not working for you.
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
Hi.

All women with hormone positive cancers (whether ER and/or PR) would derive benefit from hormonal therapy whether through the estrogen receptor blocker: tamoxifen; or with aromatase inhibitors like arimidex.  For patients with functioning ovaries which produces estrogen, the best strategy is to block the estrogen receptor in the tumor.  Aromatase inhibitors only block estrogen production in the adrenal glands and these drugs will not be of benefit for patients with still functioning ovaries (since these drugs will not suppress ovarian estrogen production).  In post menopausal patients whose ovaries are not functional anymore, aromatase inhibitors would be the choice drug (this class also has less cardiovascular side effects but somewhat more musculoskeletal side effects like fractures).

Hormonal treatment increases the chance that the cancer will not come back.  Discontinuing this drug may do just the opposite.

Regards.
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