Understanding Aromasin for Breast Cancer Treatment

Aromasin (exemestane) 25mg tablet is a medication used to treat certain types of breast cancer in women. Specifically, it is prescribed for hormone receptor positive breast cancer in postmenopausal women. This article provides an overview of how the drug works, typical dosage, safety precautions, potential side effects, and important considerations when taking Aromasin.

How Aromasin Fights Breast Cancer

Aromasin belongs to a class of drugs called aromatase inhibitors. These medications work by blocking the production of estrogen in the body.

Some breast cancers rely on estrogen to grow. By reducing estrogen levels, aromatase inhibitors can slow or reverse the growth of these hormone receptor positive breast cancers.

The active ingredient in Aromasin is exemestane. It blocks aromatase, an enzyme involved in estrogen production. Less aromatase means less estrogen is made in the body.

When Aromasin May Be Prescribed

For Early Stage Breast Cancer

Aromasin may be prescribed for early stage, hormone receptor positive breast cancer in postmenopausal women.

It is commonly used:

  • After 2-3 years of another aromatase inhibitor drug to continue preventing recurrence
  • After 2-5 years of tamoxifen to switch to a different mechanism of action

Using Aromasin following initial breast cancer treatment helps prevent the cancer from coming back.

For Advanced Breast Cancer

For advanced or metastatic cancer that has spread beyond the breast, Aromasin may be given as an initial treatment option or after trying other hormonal therapies.

The goal is to slow tumor growth and progression when the cancer relies on hormones to grow.

Typical Dosage

The recommended dosage of Aromasin is one 25mg tablet taken orally once per day.

  • Aromasin should be taken consistently – around the same time every day
  • It can be taken with or after a meal
  • Taking it at the same time helps maintain steady drug levels

Doses are often continued long-term or in cycles under medical supervision. Always take the medication as prescribed by your healthcare provider.

Special Safety Precautions

As an aromatase inhibitor that severely reduces estrogen levels, Aromasin comes with certain safety concerns mainly for women who still produce some natural estrogen.

Absorption Risks

Particular care should be taken to prevent accidentally ingesting or absorbing the drug through the skin.

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not handle Aromasin tablets. Unintended absorption could endanger the pregnancy or be passed onto infants.
  • Caregivers should wear gloves when handling Aromasin tablets if pregnant, nursing or a premenopausal woman.
  • The tablets should not be crushed, split or handled without gloves to avoid skin contact.

Lung Exposure

It’s also important those who are, or may be pregnant avoid inhaling dust while handling Aromasin.

  • Breathing in powder from the tablets poses a lung exposure risk potentially endangering pregnancy.

Simply handling the intact tablets briefly during normal dosing is not considered hazardous. But special precautions are warranted.

Potential Side Effects of Aromasin

As with any medication, Aromasin may cause certain side effects or adverse reactions. These are usually mild, but some can be serious. Common side effects include:

Mild to Moderate Reactions

  • Hot flashes
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Increased sweating
  • General muscle or joint pain

Hair and Skin Changes

  • Hair thinning
  • Increased hair shedding
  • Skin rashes

Mood Changes

  • Mild depression
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping

Gastrointestinal Effects

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Upset stomach
  • Reduced appetite

Vaginal Symptoms

  • Vaginal dryness
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal bleeding or spotting

These typically diminish over time as the body adjusts to lower estrogen levels.

Serious Potential Side Effects

Less common, but serious risks requiring prompt medical care include:

  • Bone fractures
  • Severe joint pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Changes in speech
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Severe headaches
  • Bleeding or bruising
  • Blood clots
  • New infections

Contact your healthcare provider right away if you experience any severe or concerning reactions. Monitoring through periodic lab tests and exams helps ensure safe treatment.

Aromasin Drug Interactions

Aromasin should not be taken with:

Estrogen Replacement Therapy

The goal of Aromasin is to reduce estrogen production and circulating estrogen levels. Taking estrogen replacements would interfere with its effectiveness.

However, vaginal estrogen creams may be prescribed to help relieve vaginal dryness, irritation, or discomfort if necessary.

Other Hormone Therapies

Aromasin should not be used with:

  • Other aromatase inhibitors like anastrozole or letrozole
  • Estrogen-containing therapies
  • Tibolone, used in some countries to treat menopause symptoms

Using two medications with similar effects increases possible side effects without added benefit.

Other Medications

Since Aromasin is metabolized by the CYP 3A4 enzyme system, interactions may occur with other drugs using this pathway including:

  • Some antibiotics
  • Antifungals
  • HIV protease inhibitors
  • Seizure medications
  • Herbal supplements

Be sure your doctor knows about all other medicines and supplements you take to minimize risks.

Monitoring Safety and Effectiveness

To ensure safe and effective treatment, doctors monitor Aromasin through:

Lab Tests

  • Complete blood counts
  • Liver enzyme tests
  • Kidney function tests
  • Estrogen levels
  • Possible bone density monitoring

Follow-Up Appointments

  • Checking for side effects
  • Tracking response to treatment
  • Dose adjustments as needed

Do not miss scheduled appointments and testing your healthcare providers recommend.

What to Do If You Miss a Dose

It’s important to take Aromasin regularly, as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose:

If it has been less than 1 day since the missed dose, take it as soon as you remember. Resume your normal schedule the next day.

If over 1 day has passed, do not take the missed tablet. Simply resume your normal once daily dosing schedule.

Taking extra tablets to “catch up” increases side effect risks and does not provide added benefit.

Aromasin Overdose

In case of Aromasin overdose, seek emergency medical assistance even if symptoms seem mild.

Overdose signs may include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Hot flashes, vaginal bleeding
  • Headache, visual disturbances
  • Loss of consciousness

Left untreated, an overdose can have severe health impacts in women who still produce estrogen naturally.

Safe Storage and Disposal

To prevent accidental exposure, Aromasin tablets should be stored:

✓ In original packaging ✓ At room temperature ✓ Away from excess heat and moisture ✓ Out of reach from children and pets

Do not share this medication with anyone else.

Unused Aromasin should be disposed by returning to a take-back program or according to community guidelines. Aromatase inhibitors like Aromasin may cause fetal harm if taken during pregnancy. Improper disposal risks medication ending up in the water supply.

The Bottom Line

  • Aromasin is prescribed for hormone receptor positive breast cancer
  • It blocks aromatase to lower estrogen production
  • Used long-term to prevent recurrence after initial treatment
  • Take one 25mg tablet daily with or after food
  • Carries risks like bone loss and pain that need monitoring
  • Interacts with hormones, other similar drugs
  • Requires safe handling and disposal

Aromasin can effectively fight some breast cancers reliant on estrogen but does carry some risks and considerations during treatment. Following dosage instructions carefully and staying under doctor’s care helps manage side effects and maximize therapeutic benefit. Report any unusual symptoms promptly while taking this medication.

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