Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer
Side Effects of Aromatase Inhibitors
One serious side effect of aromatase inhibitors is osteoporosis, which can lead to bone fractures. Bone density tests are used to check for osteoporosis.
Other side effects include hot flashes, muscle and joint pain, memory problems, and a higher risk of heart disease.
Ovarian Ablation for Breast Cancer
Some women with breast cancer may benefit from ovarian ablation, if they have not yet gone through menopause and their cancer is ER-positive. Ovarian ablation stops the ovaries from making estrogen. This can be done by:
- Aiming radiation at the ovaries
- Surgically removing the ovaries
- Giving the woman a drug called luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) agonist
Ovarian ablation can also be done in combination with hormone therapy. Studies have shown that giving women an LHRH agonist alone or with tamoxifen has been at least as effective as the chemotherapy combination used in hormone-sensitive, early breast cancer and in metastatic breast cancer in premenopausal women.
Before you begin breast cancer treatment, print out Questions to Ask at your first appointment.
Recognizing a Breast Cancer Emergency
Call your doctor if you have:
- A temperature greater than 100.4 F. If you have a fever and chills, tell your doctor immediately. If you can't reach your regular doctor, go to the emergency room.
- New sores or patches in your mouth, a swollen tongue, or bleeding gums
- A dry, burning, scratchy, or "swollen" throat
- A cough that is new or doesn't go away and has mucus
- Changes in bladder function, including increased frequency or urgency to go, burning during urination, or blood in your urine
- Heartburn, nausea, vomiting, constipation, or diarrhea that lasts longer than 2 or 3 days, or blood in your stools