Managing Side Effects of Aromatase Inhibitors for Breast Cancer Patients

Breast cancer is a disease that affects women all over the world, with an estimated 2.3 million new cases diagnosed in 2020 alone. Aromatase inhibitors are a type of medication commonly used to treat breast cancer in postmenopausal women. These drugs work by blocking the production of estrogen, a hormone that can promote the growth of breast cancer cells. However, like all medications, aromatase inhibitors can have side effects that can be difficult to manage. In this article, we will discuss some ways in which breast cancer patients can reduce the side effects of aromatase inhibitors.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise can help reduce some of the side effects of aromatase inhibitors. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help boost energy levels and reduce fatigue. Exercise can help with fatigue and also reduce the risk of weight gain, which is a common side effect of aromatase inhibitors.

Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help reduce the risk of side effects like constipation, dry skin, and joint pain. Aim for at least eight glasses of water per day, and consider incorporating other hydrating fluids like herbal tea or coconut water.

Consider complementary therapies: Complementary therapies like acupuncture, massage, and yoga can help manage the side effects of aromatase inhibitors. These therapies can help reduce stress and anxiety, which can exacerbate side effects like hot flashes and insomnia.

Manage hot flashes: Hot flashes are a common side effect of aromatase inhibitors. To manage hot flashes, try wearing breathable clothing, keeping your bedroom cool, and avoiding spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol. You can also talk to your doctor about prescription medications or over-the-counter remedies like black cohosh or soy.

Address joint pain: Joint pain is another common side effect of aromatase inhibitors. To manage joint pain, try gentle stretching exercises like yoga or Pilates, and consider taking over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. You can also talk to your doctor about prescription pain relievers or other treatments like physical therapy.

Take breaks from treatment: Taking breaks from aromatase inhibitor treatment can help reduce side effects like fatigue, joint pain, and hot flashes. Talk to your doctor about whether taking a break from treatment is a good option for you.

Manage mood changes: Aromatase inhibitors can sometimes cause mood changes like depression or anxiety. To manage these side effects, try practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation, and consider talking to a therapist or counselor.

Talk to your oncologist: Your oncologist is your best resource for managing the side effects of aromatase inhibitors. If you experience side effects that are interfering with your quality of life, talk to your doctor about possible solutions. Your doctor may be able to adjust your medication or recommend additional treatments to help manage side effects.

Consider switching medications: If the side effects of aromatase inhibitors are severe or interfering with your quality of life, your doctor may recommend switching to a different medication. There are several different types of medications used to treat breast cancer, and your doctor can help you find one that is better suited to your needs.

 

In conclusion, while aromatase inhibitors can be an effective treatment for breast cancer, they can also have side effects that can be difficult to manage. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle, staying hydrated, considering complementary therapies, managing hot flashes and joint pain, taking breaks from treatment, managing mood changes, talking to your doctor, and considering switching medications, breast cancer patients can reduce the side effects of aromatase inhibitors and improve their overall quality of life.

References:

American Cancer Society. (2022). Hormone therapy for breast cancer. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/treatment/hormone-therapy-for-breast-cancer.html

Breastcancer.org. (2021). Aromatase inhibitors. https://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/hormonal/aromatase_inhibitors

Mayo Clinic. (2021). Aromatase inhibitors for breast cancer. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/aromatase-inhibitors-for-breast-cancer/about/pac-20384640

National Breast Cancer Foundation. (2021). Aromatase inhibitors. https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/treatment-options/hormonal-therapy/aromatase-inhibitors

National Cancer Institute. (2021). Aromatase inhibitors. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/types/hormone-therapies/ai-fact-sheet

Susan G. Komen. (2021). Aromatase inhibitors. https://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/AromataseInhibitors.html

WebMD. (2021). Aromatase inhibitors for breast cancer. https://www.webmd.com/breast-cancer/aromatase-inhibitors-for-breast-cancer