I’ve been taking Letrozole for 1.5 years & have many years left. My questions are:

  1. Is it worth switching to another medication. I have the following side effects : loss of hair, osteoporosis & joint pain.
  2. My dentist will not release me for Prolia Infusions. Is there an alternative for treating osteoporosis cause by taking Letrozole.
  3. What are my odds of recurrent breast cancer if I stop Letrozole?

Thank you Candace

Hi Candace,

Thank you for posting. It sounds like you are having a difficult time with side effects from your letrozole. Everyone reacts differently to drugs and some people have more side effects than others.

Side effects can often be managed so it is important to let your breast care nurse or treatment team know that you are experiencing side effects that are impacting on your quality of life. They can assess you and may suggest a short break to see if your symptoms improve. They may also be able to suggest ways to manage your side effects or suggest that you switch to a different drug. If you are considering stopping your letrozole it is also important to tell your treatment team this. They will be able to explain how much benefit the letrozole will give you in reducing the risk of recurrence so that you can make an informed decision about whether to continue or not.

You mention that you have experienced hair loss, joint pain and osteoporosis since taking letrozole, and it is understandable that you are finding these side effects difficult to manage. Bone thinning is a known side effect of aromatase inhibitors and there are a range of ways of preventing or treating osteoporosis. Certain lifestyle changes can also help to look after your bones.

Hair loss can occur as a result of hormone therapy. This can be particularly distressing as treatment is usually recommend for 5, sometimes 10 years. When hormone therapy finishes, hair will usually start growing back. This may take some time and for some may not fully return to the same thickness. There are number of organisations, such as Cancer Hair Care, my new hair and Look Good Feel Better who offer specific support to women experiencing hair loss from cancer treatment. Your breast care nurse or treatment team may also be able to signpost you to local hair loss services in your area.

We often hear from many women who experience joint symptoms such as pain and stiffness, and have questions about this. Symptoms may affect the hands, arms, knees, feet, pelvic and hip bones, or back. Some people find regular pain relief and regular exercise such as walking or swimming can help to relieve pain and joint stiffness. Others find that complementary therapies such as acupuncture can help.

We offer a range of free supportive services for anyone who has had a diagnosis of breast cancer which you may be interested in. They include face to face and online courses and events.

For more details about all of these services, please see the information on the link, or call our free helpline

The helpline team have time to listen, talk things through and signpost you to more support and information if necessary. Your call will be confidential, and the number is free from UK landlines and all mobile networks. The number is 0808 800 6000, (Relay UK -prefix 18001).

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Best wishes


Breast Care Nurse

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