What is Exemestane?

Exemestane is a medication regularly used to treat and prevent certain types of breast cancer in women who have stopped menstruating due to menopause.  It is an oral medication that works to decrease the amount of estrogen that the body makes and helps to slow or reverse the growth of some types of breast cancers.  It is typically used to treat hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. Some cancers grow and spread faster by the amount of estrogen that is produced in the body. This medication works to lower estrogen levels and may slow down the growth of some tumors that form in the breast. It is also often used to treat women who have been through cancer treatments including radiation or surgery, or who have tried other cancer medications that have not been effective. The brand name for exemestane is Aromasin.

Exemestane is not typically used to treat women of childbearing age and is not a safe choice for everyone, even if they have the same illness. It is possible that potential users may have to have a pregnancy test that comes back negative before starting this medication.  Exemestane can cause birth defects. The drug should not be taken by pregnant women or those who are still menstruating and have not gone through menopause. Your medical provider will know the best course of treatment for your circumstance.

In those unusual cases that do exist that exemestane is used to treat women who are not yet past menopause, birth control should be used during the use of exemestane and for a least one month after the last dose of the medication.  It is important to share your information with your doctor before you consider this medication for breast cancer treatment, and also if you do become pregnant. It is unknown if exemestane passes into breast milk, so it is not advised to breastfeed while on exemestane. Exemestane can pass through body fluids such as urine, vomit, and feces. Anyone caring for someone using this medication should practice universal precautions and clean soiled items separately.

The most common dose of Exemestane is once daily and should be taken during a meal at the same time of day. It is important to stick to the recommended prescribed dose to get the desired outcome from the medication.  It is not advised to increase or decrease doses, double up or stop taking the medication unless advised by your doctor.  The dosage prescribed is based on your treatment, your response to treatment and consideration of all other medications you are on, including non-prescription drugs and herbal remedies.  Exemestane should be stored in its original container and away from excessive heat and moisture. Women may remain on this medication for up to five years.

Exemestane does have side effects. It is not uncommon that those taking exemestane may experience impaired thinking and alertness. The most common include hot flashes, hair loss, muscle, bone and joint pain, sweating, nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, and difficulty sleeping. Most side effects are not severe.  There are a small number of users that may experience side effects such as bone fractures, vaginal bleeding, change in the color of urine, yellowing eyes or skin or symptoms of depression or anxiety.  It is unlikely, but possible that exemestane and cancer may cause problems such as heart attack or stroke from blood clotting.  There is a long list of potential symptoms of which you should be aware.  As with any medication, seek immediate medical assistance should any signs indicating more severe side effects to exemestane appear.  Women who are on exemestane will have regular blood tests to monitor for effectiveness and side effects.






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