Exemestane, marketed by Pfizer under the brand name Aromasin, is a type of hormone therapy called an aromatase inhibitor. It is taken orally once-daily after a meal. Exemestane is approved for the adjuvant treatment of postmenopausal women with estrogen-receptor positive early breast cancer who have received two to three years of tamoxifen and are switched to exemestane for a total of five consecutive years of hormonal therapy. It also is used to treat advanced (metastatic) breast cancer in postmenopausal women whose cancer has progressed following tamoxifen therapy.
As with all medications, there are side effects associated with exemestane. Before taking this particular aromatase inhibitor, women should talk to their physicians about the potential side effects of exemestane to make sure they are comfortable with the risk-benefit profile of this breast cancer treatment.
It is important to know that the most common side effects of exemestane seen in clinical trials included hot flashes, fatigue, joint pain, headache, insomnia and increased sweating. A more serious side effect seen with exemestane is the development of osteoporosis since the pill can cause reductions in bone mineral density (BMD) over time. Other serious side effects may include chest pain, chest discomfort or heart failure.