Posted on April 28th, 2009 by
Class: Hormonal Therapy
Generic Name: anastrozole (ah-NAS-tre-zole)
Trade Name: Arimidex®
For which conditions is this drug approved? Anastrozole is indicated for the treatment of postmenopausal women with hormone-positive breast cancer either as an adjuvant treatment for the early stages of the disease; or for first-line treatment or secondary treatment after tamoxifen for postmenopausal women with advanced stages of disease.
What is the mechanism of action? Anastrozole belongs to a group of drugs referred to as aromotase inhibitors. Anastrozole produces its anti-cancer effects by inhibiting the production of the female hormone estrogen in the body. A significant portion of breast cancers, referred to as estrogen- or hormone-positive, are stimulated to grow by estrogen, which circulates in the blood stream and binds to cancer cells. By inhibiting estrogen production, the growth stimulus of the cancer cells is removed, causing cancer cells to stop growing and/or die.
How is anastrozole typically given (administered)? Anastrozole is administered as a pill once daily. It is eliminated in the body through the urine and feces.
How are patients typically monitored? Patients will usually have scheduled meetings with their healthcare provider while they are being treated with anastrozole. Typically, blood will be drawn to check levels of blood cells and to monitor functions of some organ systems, such as the kidneys or liver. Patients may also undergo physical examinations, scans or other measures to assess side effects and response to therapy. If a physician feels that a patient is at risk for osteoporosis (reduction in bone density), scans to determine bone density may be ordered prior to or during treatment with anastrozole, as the risk of bone fractures may be increased during treatment.
What are the common (occur in 30% or more of patients) side effects of treatment with anastrozole?
What are the less common (occur in 10% to 29% of patients) side effects of treatment with anastrozole?
This is not a complete list of side effects. Some patients may experience other side effects that are not listed here. Patients may wish to discuss with their physician the other less common side effects of this drug, some of which may be serious.
Some side effects may require medical attention. Other side effects do not require medical attention and may go away during treatment. Patients should check with their physician about any side effects that continue or are bothersome.
What can patients do to help alleviate or prevent discomfort and side effects?
Are there any special precautions patients should be aware of before starting treatment?
When should patients notify their physician?
What is a package insert?
A package insert is required by the FDA and contains a summary of the essential scientific information needed for the safe and effective use of the drug for healthcare providers and consumers. A package insert typically includes information regarding specific indications, administration schedules, dosing, side effects, contraindications, results from some clinical trials, chemical structure, pharmacokinetics and metabolism of the specific drug. By carefully reviewing the package insert, you will get the most complete and current information about how to safely use this drug. If you do not have the package insert for the drug you are using, your pharmacist or physician may be able to provide you with a copy.
Last updated on 09/16.
Important Limitations of Use
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