Tamoxifen -v- Arimidex

Tamoxifen -v- Arimidex

Tamoxifen -v- Arimidex Hi All

I had an appointment with my consultant this week. Armed with a newspaper advertisement which clearly states arimidex is getting better results than tamoxifen, I asked if I could be changed from tamoxifen to arimidex. I was told NO. Here is the reason why. I was pre-menopausal (age 50) when diagnosed and whilst my body is now going through the menopause, brought on by tamoxifen, there are still some functions in my body that think I am pre-menopausal. Until all these functions close down I should not consider arimidex. I would be interested to know what others think of this. I also asked if I could be tested to see what stage I was at in relation to the menopause. I was told there would be no point in this as tamoxifen distorts the results.

Would be grateful of any comments from others around the same age group.

Many thanks.


Hi Jeannie I faced exactly the same problem as you. I was diagnosed at 50 and I requested to have Arimidex because I had read so many reports saying that it was better than Tamoxifen at preventing recurrence. My onc also said a firm NO because I was pre-menopausal. That was in January 2003. In January 2006 I tried again, as there seems to be a benefit in having a couple of years of Arimidex after 2-3 years of Tamoxifen. They did a blood test which revealed that I was still only peri-menopausal (which I think means on the way) so Arimidex was refused again.

However pre-menopausal women DO get Arimidex if they can’t tolerate the side effects of Tamoxifen, so where’s the logic in that? I know Tamoxifen is better at protecting your bones against osteoporosis, but if it doesn’t work as well at preventing cancer, that kind of pales into insignificance.

I would push for another blood test - I wasn’t told that Tamoxifen would distort the results. Get your GP to do it if the hospital won’t. I’ve got to have one in January 2008 when I finish my 5 years of Tamoxifen to see if I can go onto Letrozole (again only suitable if you are post-menopausal).

Good luck!

Hi Jeannie

I am 41 and take Arimidex, my Onc says that I am better off on it rather than Tamoxifen. I am post menopausal and he said he could not give me Arimidex unless the hormone test showed that I was post menopausal, which as you can guess did!

As Helen says Arimidex is only appropriate in post menopausal women, because of the way in which Aramatase Inhibitors work.

Lynn x

My onchologist told me that, as I was pre-menopausal on diagnosis , even though I haven’t had a period since starting chemo, I will be on tamoxifen for 2 years and if I still haven’t had a period during those 2 years she will put me on arimidex for the next 3 years as I will then be classed as post menopausal.

Hi Jeannie

altho I’m younger (not much 44) this has been my experience. I had blood tests (while taking tamoxifen) that showed I was still pre-menopausal. I have been given the option of having my ovaries removed - this will make me menopausal and then I can go on arimidex. There is a fact sheet on this site about ovarian ablation.

Hope this helps


Pre-menopausal women have to have their ovaries suppressed or removed in order to access AI’s, such as Arimidex. This was my case and only happened because my cancer spread. If not, I would have finished the standard 5 years of Tamoxifen.

Tamoxifen does distort the results of blood tests - you have to come off it for 6-8 weeks before they can accurately test oestrogen levels.

If you start with an AI before you are truly post-menopausal, it can actually stimulate your ovaries to produce more oestrogen. This has led to a small number of women in the US having further spread and may even have contributed to the number of deaths within the group.

Tamoxifen is still the “gold standard” treatment because it has been around for much longer and much more is known about its long-term effects. Those of us on AI’s are really just the first generation and don’t know what the future may hold for us long-term, although the stats from the early trials are coming through all the time. So far, they seem to show only slight benefits overall, which is why most oncs are continuing to prescribe the more tried and tested drug where they can. And by the time you finish your 5 years of Tamoxifen, you may be able to change to an AI, if your body and the trial results show you would benefit from them.

Good luck and best wishes, Mel

Arimidex i was 35 when dx in 2005 and i had turned 36 when my chemo /rads were all done and my oncologist put me straight onto Arimidex,
he told me i wasnt getting Tamoxifen.
i had one period just before 7months of chemo, and i’ve not seen anything since.
He keeps an eye on my blood results, so i guess hes checking i’m still not producing ostregen.

i’m always interested to read the Arimidex debates,
as i seem to be the odd one out at my age on Arimidex.

kim x


I’m 35 and now on Arimidex. We’re a small (but growing) group!

How have the side effects been for you? I’m just 10 days in and waiting with fingers crossed to see what’s going to happen… Any advice, gratefully received!

As well as checking your bloods, is your onc monitoring your bone density? If not, he really should be as you’ll be without oestrogen for so long. Do you take any calcium and vit D supplements?

Mel x

Tamoxifen v Arimidex. At age 63 I am obviously post menopausal. I was offered Tamoxifen but I had read up on it and due to my other health problem I said I didn’t think it suitable. On checking my notes my surgeon then agreed and said Arimidex would be best. I have been taking it for 3 half months and the early symptoms of nausea and hot flushes seem to have settled but at each monthly cycle I don’t feel so good. However, I can live with that. Every case seems to be different and I think it is trial and error really to get it right. Good luck eveybody. xx

Hiya Mel,

its good to know i’m not alone hun.

My side effects started with really bad pains in my legs for 1st few weeks, i had pain killers from dr they were so bad.
After a few weeks though they went away.

The main effects i have are achy joints esp when i 1st get out of bed on a morning or if i’ve been sitting still awhile.
and i get my tropical moments at night { other wise known as hot sweats ! }

i take 2 adcal-d3 calcium tablets a day.

i dont have bone density scans, your not the first i’ve heard say that either, Do you have them then ?
i have an appointment with my oncologist on wednesday so i will try to remember to ask him abbout the scans.

kim x

I find it all rather confusing about tamoxifen and arimadex and pre and post menopausal.
My onc is exactely on the same wave length as yours homer.
I pleaded for a blood test to check hormones having not had a period since Feb last year with chemo and tamoxifen. she got quite annoyed with me said she was NOT willing to do it it would be a complete waste of time.

I hate tamoxifen with a vengeance but it seems the only drug available.
What saddens me is they say they are discovering better ways to treat BC but for the pre-menopausal woman they have not made any inroads just one drug which has been around years.

Why dont they just advice us all to have our ovaries out is it money they are thinking of or us?


Hiya Ruth,

its kimi from the other side !

they may as well take our ovaris out ,we dont really have use of them anymore do we hun ?

My oncologist does test my blood to see whats going on,
i’m just hoping nothing is as i dont like the sound of the zoldex injections, i saw a lady waiting to be given one when i was having my chemo it looked HUGE !

kim x

Message for Kim - Re: Bone Scans Hiya Kim,

You should definitely ask about the bone density (DEXA) scans on Wednesday, as bone thinning is a side effect of the AI’s, especially as we’ll be without oestrogen from such a young age which means that we are at extra high risk of osteoporosis. And my nan had that anyway! I’m still waiting for the appointment to come through for my baseline scan 'cos I only started the Arimidex 2 weeks ago. Apparently it has to go through your GP, so you may be able to go direct to yours? Not sure how often they’ll scan to keep an eye on things.

I’m also having tropical heatwaves each night, but no aching so far… I’m taking cod liver oil to try and avoid the pains - mmmm, nice fishy burps! But OMG! I’m SOOO knackered! Do you buy your calcium or are you getting a prescription?

Take care and stay in touch,

Mel x

Arimidex Hi Jeannie. I was pre-menopausal before chemo. Diagnosed age 46. No period since chemo and 20 months of tamoxifen. Then, like you, I read an article in the newspaper announcing the availability of Arimidex for primary cases in Scotland. Got on to oncologist who agreed to change me over. I didn’t have a blood test but am part of a research project in which I have a DXA scan and blood test annualy so maybe my notes confirmed post menopausal status. Have been on Arimidex for nearly a year and a half. My oncologist is at Western General in Edinburgh. My local GP knew nothing of the drug, couldn’t even tell me if I should start it right after tamox or wait a while. I think on this one we are all very much in the vanguard!

Thank you all Hi Everyone

Thank you all for your responses. They have been very helpful to me.
I particularly appreciated the responses from women around my age group.

I have been on tamoxifen for approx 17 months now. I am prepared to stay on tamoxifen for say 24 months and check again with my oncologist. Will ask him at around the 2 year period if I would be better with arimidex and let you know what he has to say. I lost my periods after my first chemo and have had nothing since.

I question if tamoxifen distorts the results how we can truly know we are post-menopausal. My oncologist is of the opinion if in doubt stay on tamoxifen.

What is a DXA scan? I’m heading down your way on Tuesday. Having a “pamper” overnight stay at Stobo. This week has been stressful with my medical negligence problems so I’m very much looking forward to the break.

Wishing you all a good week-end.



DXA It’s a bone density scan that I get annualy as part of the research project I’m involved with. Turns out to be really useful since the anastrozole doesn’t protect bones and I’d probably have to nag someone to give me one otherwise! The blood test is to check the long term effect of chemo and medication on hormonal status so I presume that shows that it is ok to let me use Arimidex.

Lucky thing to be going to Stobo for a pamper! Hope the weather improves, it’s windy and snowing here today!
Hope you can relax and put your negligence case behind you for a few hours. Have a lovely time. x

I had a partial hysterectomy (ovaries still intact) I had this when I was 55 - 7 years ago. Afterwards I was put on premarin to combact the affects of osteoporiasis. Every mammagram since then has proved negative until around eight months ago when Premarin was withdrawn from production. I was put on climaval 1mg. It was in November last year that following a biopsy ,two very small lumps were found , which resulted in my having to have a mastectomy.
I am now beginning to wonder whether the Climaval had anything to do with my condition. My cancer was oestrogen pos. so I’m beginning to wonder if I should have been on the drug at all, or if the Cimaval was the culprit. The Hospital said that it was MY hormones which fed the cancer, but I’m now having doubts on that. I that was the case, WHY was I on HRT in the FIRST PLACE? I am also on Tamoxifen and suffer the side affects, but I’m not holding my breath that I can get this changed. I feel a little bitter. Going back in on the 29th March to have the scar re -stitched, and not looking forward to it. Seem to be snapping everyone’s head off at the moment (another side affect of Tamoxifen I suppose)

Arimidex I am 36 yrs old and was on tamoxifin. I have just been changed to Arimidex. I had to have zoladex injections to put me into a temporary menopause and then have my ovaries removed to make me post menopausal as the chemo didn’t stop my periods. I had a full hysterectomy while I was at it. I was told that Arimidex would be better than tamox for HER2 cancer. As it fed on Oestrogen it was better not to have any more children and to be post menopause and get a better drug. I never really had many side effects on tamox but I have noticed a reduction in the hot sweats since having Arimidex.