Anastrozole (By mouth)

Introduction

Anastrozole (an-AS-troe-zole)

Treats certain types of breast cancer in women who have stopped menstruating (postmenopausal).

Brand Name(s)

Arimidex

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used

You should not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to anastrozole, if you are pregnant, or if you have not stopped menstruating (premenopausal).

How to Use This Medicine

Tablet

  • Medicines used to treat cancer are very strong and can have many side effects. Before receiving this medicine, make sure you understand all the risks and benefits. It is important for you to work closely with your doctor during your treatment.
  • Your doctor will tell you how much of this medicine to use and how often. Do not use more medicine or use it more often than your doctor tells you to.
  • You may take this medicine with or without food.
  • This medicine comes with patient instructions. Read and follow these instructions carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.

If a dose is missed:

  • If you miss a dose or forget to use your medicine, use it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then to use the medicine and skip the missed dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.
  • If you vomit after taking your medicine, call your doctor or pharmacist for instructions.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine

  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.
  • Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any leftover medicine after you have finished your treatment. You will also need to throw away old medicine after the expiration date has passed.
  • Keep all medicine away from children and never share your medicine with anyone.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are using tamoxifen (Nolvadex®), or any medicine that contains estrogen (such as Climara®, Delestrogen®, Estrace®, Estraderm®, or Premarin®).

Warnings While Using This Medicine

  • It is unlikely that a postmenopausal woman may become pregnant. But, you should know that using this medicine while you are pregnant could harm your unborn baby. If you think you have become pregnant while using the medicine, tell your doctor right away.
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are breastfeeding, or if you have liver disease, bone problems (such as osteoporosis), high cholesterol, or heart disease.
  • This medicine may cause a serious type of allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Call your doctor right away if you have itching; hives; hoarseness; trouble breathing; trouble swallowing; or any swelling of your hands, face, or mouth while you are using this medicine.
  • This medicine may decrease bone mineral density when used for a long time. A low bone mineral density can cause weak bones or osteoporosis. If you have any questions about this, talk to your doctor.
  • This medicine may increase your cholesterol or fat in the blood. If this happens, your doctor may give you medicine to lower the cholesterol and fat.
  • Stop taking this medicine and check with your doctor right away if you start having chest pains or shortness of breath. This medicine may increase the chance of heart attack or stroke in women who have a history of ischemic heart disease.
  • Your doctor will need to check your blood at regular visits while you are using this medicine. Be sure to keep all appointments.
  • Cancer medicines can cause nausea and/or vomiting in most people, sometimes even after receiving medicines to prevent it. Ask your doctor or nurse about other ways to control these side effects.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Back pain or bone pain.
  • Blistering, peeling, or red skin rash.
  • Chest pain or shortness of breath.
  • Fever, chills, cough, sore throat, and body aches.
  • Numbness, tingling, or burning pain in your hands, arms, legs, or feet.
  • Rapid weight gain.
  • Severe diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting.
  • Swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet.
  • Vaginal bleeding or discharge.
  • Yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes.

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Breast pain.
  • Constipation, stomach pain, upset stomach, or loss of appetite.
  • Dizziness or headache.
  • Joint or muscle pain.
  • Mild skin rash.
  • Mood changes, anxiety, or irritability.
  • Tiredness or weakness.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Warmth or redness in your face, neck, arms, or upper chest.

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Version Info

  • Last Reviewed on 06/12/2013

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This page was last updated: September 18, 2013

         
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