Aromatase inhibitor therapy: toxicities and management strategies in the treatment of postmenopausal women with hormone-sensitive early breast cancer

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2011 Apr;126(2):295-310. doi: 10.1007/s10549-011-1351-3. Epub 2011 Jan 20.


Aromatase inhibitors (AIs) have been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence and are widely used today as adjuvant therapy in women with early stage endocrine-responsive breast cancer. Aromatase inhibitors may be prescribed as initial hormonal therapy, sequentially following 2-3 years of tamoxifen, or as extended adjuvant therapy (following 5 years of tamoxifen). Aromatase inhibitors are generally well tolerated; however, certain side effects, particularly arthralgia/musculoskeletal symptoms and gynecologic effects, may result in poor adherence to treatment. Patients receiving adjuvant therapy with an AI should be counseled regarding possible side effects and the importance of completing treatment. Interventions to ameliorate side effects should be individualized based on symptoms, comorbid conditions, and pre-existing therapies. In addition, bone and cardiovascular health should be monitored during AI therapy. Prompt therapeutic management of common side effects associated with AIs may provide patients with the opportunity to receive the full benefit of their adjuvant hormonal treatment while minimizing toxicity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aromatase Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Aromatase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Arthralgia / chemically induced
  • Bone Diseases, Metabolic / chemically induced
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / chemically induced
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Cognition Disorders / chemically induced
  • Disease Management
  • Female
  • Genital Diseases, Female / chemically induced
  • Hot Flashes / chemically induced
  • Humans
  • Postmenopause


  • Aromatase Inhibitors