What is Arimidex?
Arimidex, the brand name for the generic drug Anastrozole, is a medication used primarily to treat breast cancer in women, although it can be prescribed for several other conditions. Arimidex is what is called an “aromatase inhibitor.” Aromatase is the enzyme the body uses to synthesize the female sex hormone estrogen, which causes breast and ovarian cancers to grow and spread. By inhibiting the production or absorption of estrogen in receptor cells, Anastrozole helps block certain breast cancers from spreading and decreases the chance of a recurrence. Arimidex is not effective against hormone-receptor-negative breast cancers.
This medication can be used by itself or along with other breast cancer treatments like surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation in post-menopausal women, often following a round of therapy with Tamoxifen, another breast cancer treatment drug.
Other uses of Anastrozole include:
- For post-menopausal women as the first medical treatment for hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer that has spread (metastasized) inside the breast, to the other breast, or to other areas of the body.
- For pre-menopausal women with hormone-receptor-negative breast cancer that have received previous unsuccessful treatment with Tamoxifen.
- Occasionally, oncologists will prescribe Arimidex prophylactically (“just in case”) to women who have a high likelihood of developing breast cancer, such as to women who have had breast cancer in the past.
- Another usage for Arimidex is by athletes and body building aficionados who are seeking to reduce or prevent altogether the symptoms of excess estrogen, gynecomastia (enlarged male breasts), and bloating. Such excess estrogen is common, as many bodybuilders and athletes consume a great deal of soy protein, which results in elevated estrogen levels.
- Studies are still being conducted regarding the usage of Anastrozole by men to combat the development of a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia, hypogonadism, and gynecomastia. Arimidex has shown promise in treatment and prevention of these ailments, since an excess of estrogens causes all of these conditions.
- So far, studies regarding the use of Arimidex for male breast cancer have shown promise, especially when the medication is used in conjunction with hormone therapy.
- Off-label usage of Anastrozole is common in cases of childhood estrogen hormonal imbalances, such as for precocious puberty (premature physical maturity in very young females) and for children who have pubertal gynecomastia (an uncommon occurrence in pubescent boys, where they develop enlarged breasts due to hormonal imbalances). Some doctors have used it to successfully treat growth hormone deficiency in pubescent males, resulting in greater height.
Any usage of Arimidex should be prescribed by a physician, especially since side effects of Arimidex can be potentially serious. However, the benefits of taking Anastrozole will outweigh the side effects, especially in cases of what would otherwise be a terminal cancer.