Compare Arimidex vs. Nolvadex

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

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Arimidex (anastrozole)

Prescription only

Nolvadex (Tamoxifen)

Prescription only
Treats breast cancer in postmenopausal women

Arimidex (anastrozole) is one of the first-line treatments for breast cancer that helps improve survival rates, but it is used only in post-menopausal women.

Lowers risk of and treats breast cancer.

Nolvadex (Tamoxifen) is an effective, first-line option for certain types of breast cancers, but it has many severe side effects and needs a lot of monitoring.

Upsides
  • Available as a pill unlike some chemotherapies.
  • Can be used safely and effectively even in those with kidney or liver problems.
  • Available as a generic version
  • Can be used as first line or second line hormone therapy for certain advanced breast cancers.
  • In studies, postmenopausal women who were at high risk for breast cancer took Nolvadex (Tamoxifen) for 5 years and lowered their risk by about 50%.
  • Nolvadex (Tamoxifen) is the only medicine approved to lower risk of breast cancer regardless of menopausal status. Other medicines are approved only for postmenopausal women.
  • Effective in treating metastatic breast cancer in men and women.
  • Available in both tablets and a sugar-free solution.
Downsides
  • Arimidex (anastrozole) can cause serious allergic reactions, such as rash, hives, tightness in the chest or throat, and trouble breathing.
  • You will have to get your blood drawn regularly while on Arimidex (anastrozole).
  • Unlike other chemotherapies, Arimidex (anastrozole) reduces the amount of estrogen in your body, which can lead to weaker bones and other symptoms typically only seen in postmenopausal women.
  • If you're taking Nolvadex (Tamoxifen) to lower your risk for breast cancer, it can raise your risk of having a stroke or getting a blood clot, especially if you have a history of blood clots or you're currently taking a blood thinner, like warfarin. Tell your doctor about any health conditions before you start taking Nolvadex (Tamoxifen).
  • Can raise the risk of fractures in premenopausal women.
  • There are many drug interactions, including antidepressants and other chemotherapy (anti-cancer) medicines. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before making any changes.
  • Requires regular blood tests and doctor exams to monitor for side effects.
  • Not the best choice if you have eye or liver problems.
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Used for
  • Hormone receptor positive breast cancer
  • Reduction of risk for breast cancer
Dosage forms
  • Pill
  • Pill
  • Liquid
Price
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Reviews
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Side effects
26possible side effects
  • Stomach pain
    32%
  • Dilation of blood vessels
    31%
  • Hot flashes
    24%
  • Fatigue
    19%
  • Mood disorder
    19%
  • Worsening of heart disease in those with pre-existing heart condition
    17%
  • Joint inflammation
    17%
  • Nausea
    16%
  • Weakness
    16%
  • Headache
    14%
  • Pain
    14%
  • Severe chest pain in those with pre-existing heart condition
    12%
  • Vomiting
    11%
  • Weak bones
    11%
  • Back pain
    11%
  • Inflammation of the throat
    10%
  • Difficulty breathing
    10%
  • Swelling
    9%
  • Skin rash
    9%
  • Joint pain
    9%
  • Bone pain
    9%
  • Coughing
    9%
  • High blood pressure
    8%
  • Depression
    8%
  • Heart disease
    4%
  • Severe chest pain
    2%
See more detailed side effects
21possible side effects
  • Hot Flashes
    65%
  • Flush
    33%
  • Fluid Retention
    32%
  • Vaginal Discharge
    30%
  • Nausea
    26%
  • Irregular Menses
    25%
  • Weight Loss (>5%)
    23%
  • Skin Changes
    19%
  • Amenorrhea
    16%
  • Altered Menses
    13%
  • Oligomenorrhea
    9%
  • Bone Pain
    6%
  • Menstrual Disorder
    6%
  • Thrombocytopenia
    5%
  • Cough/Coughing
    4%
  • Edema
    4%
  • Fatigue
    4%
  • Muscoloskeletal Pain
    3%
  • Pain
    3%
  • Ovarian Cyst(s)
    3%
  • Depression
    2%
See more detailed side effects
Risks and risk factors
  • Decreased bone mineral density
  • High cholesterol
    • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease
    • History of heart problems
See more detailed risks and warnings
  • Serious and life-threatening events
  • Harm to fetus
    • Women of childbearing age
  • Increased risk of vision changes
  • Worsening liver function
    • Current liver problems
  • Blood disorders
See more detailed risks and warnings