Long term Effects of AIs
The very good news is that many women treated for breast cancer go on to live long and healthy lives. The less good news is that sometimes these lives are affected by cancer treatments. Obviously, the greater risk to us all is dying of cancer, so it is appropriate and smart and necessary to have prescribed radiation, chemotherapy, and/or hormonal treatments in spite of the fine print on consent forms. I often compare these forms to those we sign before any surgery. The surgical consents list possible death as a consequence, but we sign them anyway.
As more women live to blessedly ripe old ages, more attention is being paid to the possible medium and long term consequences of treatments. We know that the aromatase inhibitors, the AIs, carry a side effect of weakening bones. Some women who already have osteopenia or osteoporosis before diagnosis are put on tamoxifen, rather than an AI, to avoid this risk. Most of us, however, take the AI for five or ten years and monitor our bones for the duration.
This is a good article from Living Beyond Breast Cancer about this situation:
After Some Breast Cancer Treatments, Risk for Other Health Conditions May Rise
A healthy weight and regular exercise may help older women prevent these conditions
Written By Marcia Frellick
Reviewed By Gretchen G. Kimmick, MD, MS
A recent study suggests that while women are living longer after treatment for breast cancer, they may be at greater risk of developing certain health conditions as they age.
The study, published in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship, helps inform older women about lifestyle changes that may reduce their risk of developing osteoporosis, heart disease and high blood pressure.