Starting Aromatize Inhibitors Years after Diagnosis

Last Modified: June 18, 2006

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Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

I have Stage I breast cancer and was treated with lumpectomy and radiation. I tried tamoxifen for about 9 months and then stopped because I was worried about stroke and didn't like the side effects. I was diagnosed in November of 2002 and stopped taking tamoxifen by December of 2003.

All is fine, yet I went to the surgeon (he happens to be new, my original surgeon moved) and he asked why I wasn't taking Arimidex. Maybe he was just curious, but so my question is this: haven't I passed the window of opportunity? What percentage would I gain from starting it now and how long would I take it? It has been nearly 2 years [since I stopped].

Answer

Kevin R. Fox, MD, Assistant Director, Clinical Affairs and Associate Professor of Hematology/Oncology at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

The benefits would likely be minimal. I wouldn't recommend it at this point. All the benefits of Arimidex are based on clinical trials in which the drug was generally started within three months of the diagnosis.

It is possible that the surgeon was thinking you may have or should have switched from tamoxifen to Arimidex back when you discontinued the tamoxifen. Regardless, there are no clear data to support the use of Armidex at this time point in your history.


News
Women who take drug for 5 years have lower recurrence risk 15 years after starting treatment

Mar 24, 2011 - Women with breast cancer who take tamoxifen for five years appear to have a lower risk of recurrence or contralateral breast cancer 15 years after starting treatment as compared to women who take the drug for two years, and they may also have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and death from a cardiovascular event, according to a study published online March 21 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.



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