• My Oncologist Has Said Post Menopausal Women Should Take Aromitase Inhibitors & not Tamoxifen, What's the concensus here?

    Asked by AlizaMLS on Monday, March 11, 2013

    My Oncologist Has Said Post Menopausal Women Should Take Aromitase Inhibitors & not Tamoxifen, What's the concensus here?

    I've been told by two different Oncologists who care for me (a hematologist/Oncologist who treats me for Lupus) and a Hematologist/Oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering (who is my Oncologist) that Tamoxifen is great for premenopausal women (at least as far as BC is concerned), and that post-Menopause, an Aromitase inhibitor should be prescribed because there are dangers involved with a post-menopausal woman using Tamoxifen. Is this the experience of most of the BC and female cancer patients on the site?

    10 Answers from the Community

    10 answers
    • Debbie's Avatar

      My oncologist agrees. I am post menopausal and taking an AI

      over 3 years ago
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      AIs lower the amount of estrogen in the body by stopping certain hormones from turning into estrogen. If estrogen levels are low enough, the tumor cannot grow. Tamoxifen blocks estrogen receptors on breast cancer cells. Estrogen is still present in normal levels, but the breast cancer cells cannot get enough of it to grow.

      AIs are not given to premenopausal women because
      their ovaries still produce estrogen. AIs will not stop the ovaries from making the estrogen that
      feeds the tumor.

      As part of their treatment plan, some postmenopausal women will use AIs alone. Others will use tamoxifen for 1-5 years and then begin using AIs. To my knowledge, there is no danger associated with post menopausal women taking Tamoxifen. Some recent studies indicate that a combination of Tamoxifen followed by an AI in post menopausal women may be slightly more effective at preventing or postponing a cancer recurrence but the studies are too new to determine if there is any actual increase in survival rates.

      I took Tamoxifen for 5 years starting about 20 years ago when I was pre menopausal. Not quite 15 years after completing the Tamoxifen regimen, I was diagnosed with a different primary breast cancer that is also ER+. I am currently on an aromatase inhibitor.

      over 3 years ago
    • karen1956's Avatar

      My oncs first choice for post menopausal women is AI"s but he will also use tamox...when I was struggling on AI's he put me on tamox...but those side effects were worse for me....Pre-menopause you can't take AI's...I know many gals post meno who take tamox for several years then AI's....there is no one standard protocol.....but tamox is not contraindicated for post meno women

      over 3 years ago
    • Bug's Avatar

      All of the info I have heard from my docs and seen in the research recommends Tamoxifen for pre-menopausal women and aromitase inhibitors for post menopausal women.

      over 3 years ago
    • nonnie917's Avatar

      Why are these drugs given to women post memapausal women if their cancer was stage 0, contained non-invasive and she has had a double mastectomy done? This doesn't make sense to me.

      over 3 years ago
    • debco148's Avatar

      That is the correct protocol. However, some women, like me were not sure if they were post menopausal yet when bc hit..you need to be period free for one year to determine that. So I will take tamoxifen for 2 or 2 1/2 years and then be switched to AI.

      over 3 years ago
    • SandiD's Avatar

      My oncologist recommended the same. My favorite site for info in www.breastcancer.org. I highly recommend it because it will answer most of your questions. Good luck!

      over 3 years ago
    • SandiD's Avatar

      Nonnie917 AI's suppress estrogen. If you had a cancer that was positive for it, you would want to make sure you do not have estrogen in your system to help prevent recurrence. Just because a patient was Stage 0, it does not mean it could never come back (though much less likely). Your oncologist is the cancer expert. If AI's are recommended, I would take them. I want to know I am doing everything I can to beat this awful disease. I hope that helped, that was a very short explanation. Think of estrogen like adding fertilizer to a plant (or cancer cell).

      over 3 years ago
    • AlizaMLS's Avatar


      Thanks for your answer to my question. It's an interesting one. I suppose from an Oncologist's p-o-v, that they'd say to be on the safe side (underline safe side), that they'd prescribe these drugs as a precaution against a recurrence. That's my best guess.


      over 3 years ago
    • Netsy's Avatar

      That's what my Oncologist said also.

      over 3 years ago

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