Aromatase inhibitor-induced arthralgia: a review

Ann Oncol. 2013 Jun;24(6):1443-9. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdt037. Epub 2013 Mar 6.


Though aromatase inhibitors (AIs) are an essential part of estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer therapy, many patients discontinue the medicine before their adjuvant therapy is completed because of the arthralgia which often accompanies the medicine. Up to half of women on AI therapy experience joint pain, and up to 20% will become non-compliant with the medicine because of the joint pain. Yet, very little is known about what causes AI-induced arthralgia (AIA), and there is no established, effective treatment for this difficult problem. It compromises survivors' quality of life and leads to non-compliance. This paper will discuss AIA in depth, including potential etiologies, clinical significance, risk factors, and possible management solutions. Of note, this article presents one of the first proposed algorithms which clearly lays out a treatment plan for AIA, incorporating a variety of interventions which have been proven by the available literature.

Keywords: aromatase inhibitors; arthralgia; breast cancer; survivorship.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Aromatase Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Arthralgia / chemically induced*
  • Arthralgia / diagnosis*
  • Arthralgia / therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Disease Management
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Aromatase Inhibitors