I had my quarterly visit with my oncologist yesterday. As of 2012, I will only have visits every 6 months and annual mammograms! That means I've graduated to the next level of survivorhood!
He switched my drug from Tamoxifen to Arimidex I told him I will finish out the next 3 months of Tamoxifen first. ( I just got my next bottle of 90 days in the mail!) That will give me 2 solid years of Tamoxifen and will put me at almost 3 years since my last period. I was heading down that menopausal route before I was diagnosed, but chemo cut my journey short. Arimidex has it's own set of risks and side effects, however it seems to have a better statisitical rate of non-reoccurance of breast cancer.
Below are some highlights I found while researching this new drug. And new is the key word. Tamoxifen has been around for over 20 years. Arimidex is relatively new and thus not as much research has been done.
In a woman who has gone through menopause, the adrenal gland is the largest source of estrogen. Arimidex works by preventing the conversion of steroids made by the adrenal gland into estrogen.
With an average of four years of treatment on the ATAC study, hormone receptor-positive participants taking Arimidex were 22 percent more likely to be cancer-free than those taking tamoxifen. As more study results become available, the curves will probably continue to diverge, and we expect that over another five or ten years, we’ll see an even greater difference between the effectiveness of the two drugs. We also expect that Arimidex will improve overall survival rates, because we’re seeing fewer recurrences in distant organs among women taking Arimidex.
In the study, more than 5,000 women with hormone-receptor-positive tumors were followed for more than three years after treatment was stopped. The researchers show that an additional 25% of recurrences were prevented by Arimidex, compared with tamoxifen, says John F. Forbes, MD, professor of surgery at the University of Newcastle in Australia.
More than eight years after treatment started -- and more than three years after it stopped -- Arimidex scored better than tamoxifen on almost every measure:
• It lowered the risk of breast cancer relapse by 15% compared to tamoxifen
• It reduced the spread of cancer to other parts of the body, such as the lungs or liver by 16% compared to tamoxifen
• It slashed the chances of a tumor in the other breast by 40% compared to tamoxifen.
There haven’t been many breast cancer-related deaths so far among study participants, so we haven’t yet observed a difference in survival. The ATAC study also indicated that Arimidex is better tolerated than tamoxifen.
Arimidex offers a small but real improvement over tamoxifen, and in general, side effects are minimal.
Dec. 14, 2007 (San Antonio) -- Even after treatment ends, Arimidex beats out tamoxifen in preventing breast cancer recurrence in women with hormone-fueled tumors.
Studies have shown that Arimidex is better at preventing relapses than tamoxifen during the five years that women are being treated with these drugs
Updated results from this landmark trial also show that the increased risk of fractures associated with Arimidex therapy disappears after treatment stops.
During treatment, nearly 3% of women taking Arimidex had bone fractures vs. only 2% on tamoxifen. More than three years after treatment ended, the percentage was about 1.5% in both groups.
Arimidex side effects are often predictable in terms of their onset and duration. The most common side effects of Arimidex are:
Decreased energy and weakness
Most people do not experience all of the Arimidex side effects listed
So, as you can see, I could use your prayers. I hope for none of these side effects, but covet the wisdom to deal with them if I do get any. I was just getting the hang of dealing with Tamoxifen side effects, but hopefully these new ones, which I won't start until about March of 2012, will prove themselves to be less painful and risky.