Many postmenopausal women diagnosed with hormone-positive breast cancer are prescribed Letrozole, or as one of the most commonly known brands as Femara. It is taken as a part of the ongoing treatment to reduce the risk of cancer coming back.
The ovaries in women who have been through the menopause no longer produce oestrogen, however some is still made in body fat using an enzyme (type of protein) called aromatase.
Femara stops this enzyme from working so there’s less oestrogen in the body for the cancer to feed on.
With Femara there are so many side effects listed when reading comments on the Internet – they can sound so horrendous that you wonder whether it’s worth taking Femara in the first place and suffering these for 5 – 10 years.
Problem is – these comments can be so misleading; they are generally only comments from people who are suffering medium to severe side-effects.
So what are the common side-effects?
For me it was back to the hot flushes, night sweats, and mood swings! Along with joint aches and stiffness – in my hips, knees and hands. But as soon as I started to walk around or use my hands it would wear off. On occasions paracetamol or Ibuprofen would help.
I think the worst for me was the weight gain; it has been difficult, but not impossible to control.
I found exercising helped to keep my joints from stiffening up and keeping the weight gain to a minimum. Also keeping track of my diet and eating the right food has been a long-term commitment.
There are so many who can continue taking Femara in the knowledge that they are reducing the risk of cancer returning. Others will consider changing their hormone therapy or just stop taking it under specialists advice.
Taking any form of treatment is a very personal decision for everyone, and the important considerations are the difference that Femara will make to the risk of cancer returning.
Unfortunately, it’s not possible for any treatment to give a 100% guarantee, but there is evidence that the treatment is a ‘risk-reducer’.
Believing you have made the right decision for you is what matters most.
The most important consideration is obtaining accurate and reliable information from your breast consultant and oncologist, to help you make a decision you are comfortable with.
Please contact me if you need to talk about your concerns, I give a safe place for you to come and talk, without judgement, to be listened to with empathy and to help you find a way to manage.