What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking exemestane if you have:
- Kidney disease, including kidney failure (renal failure)
- Liver disease, including liver failure or cirrhosis
- Not gone through menopause
- Any allergies, including allergies to food, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
- Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant (see Aromasin and Pregnancy)
- Breastfeeding (see Aromasin and Breastfeeding).
Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about all of the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
(Click Precautions and Warnings With Exemestane to learn more, including information on who should not take the drug.)
How Does Exemestane Work?
Exemestane is part of a group of medications called aromatase inhibitors. Aromatase is an enzyme found in various places in the body. These enzymes help produce estrogens (in particular, a certain estrogen called estradiol). In postmenopausal women, aromatase enzymes make most of the estrogen in the body. By blocking these enzymes, exemestane helps to decrease the amount of estrogen in the body.
Many breast cancers are sensitive to the estrogen hormone, meaning that the tumor grows with the help of estrogen. When a tumor is sensitive to estrogen, it has receptors on the outer surface of its cells. Estrogen fits into these receptors like a key opening a lock. When this connection is made, the cancer grows. Breast cancers that have estrogen (and/or progesterone) receptors are known as hormone receptor-positive tumors.
By decreasing estrogen production, exemestane can help decrease the growth of these breast cancers. This type of breast cancer treatment is known as hormonal therapy (see Breast Cancer Hormone Treatment).