Managing arthralgia in a postmenopausal woman taking an aromatase inhibitor for hormonesensitive early breast cancer: A case study

Jane Bryce, Martina Bauer, Peyman Hadji

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In order to reduce the risk of recurrence, adjuvant treatment with an aromatase inhibitor (AI) is recommended for postmenopausal women following surgery for hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. AIs are associated with improved disease-free survival compared with tamoxifen. The adverse events associated with AIs resemble those of menopause, such as bone density loss and musculoskeletal symptoms. Purpose: We examine the case of a postmenopausal woman who was prescribed anastrozole, a nonsteroidal AI, as adjuvant therapy following surgery for estrogen and progesterone receptorpositive (ER and PgR+) breast cancer. Methods and sample: A 58-year-old postmenopausal woman diagnosed with ER and PgR+ breast cancer was prescribed anastrozole as adjuvant therapy following a right-inferior quadrantectomy. After experiencing joint pain and stiffness, she was prescribed paracetamol and a topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. She was also counseled on nonpharmacological interventions. However, she continued to experience symptoms, and reported that she was not taking anastrozole regularly. Results: The case study patient ultimately found relief by switching to letrozole, another aromatase inhibitor. This approach is supported by recent studies examining the benefits of switching strategies between aromatase inhibitors in order to relieve symptoms of arthralgia/myalgia. Conclusions: Both adherence and strategies for managing aromatase inhibitor-associated arthralgia are key to deriving maximal clinical benefit from AI therapy. Switching from one aromatase inhibitor to another may provide a viable option in managing adverse events and enhancing adherence to medication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-111
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Management and Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 28 2012


  • Adherence
  • Anastrozole
  • Aromatase inhibitor
  • Arthralgia
  • Breast cancer
  • Letrozole

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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