- Question from Jan: Are blood tests to determine if someone has gone through menopause accurate? I am on tamoxifen and would like to have a blood test to see if I can be switched to Arimidex, but I do not want to take the chance unless they are very accurate.
- Answers - Sandra F. Schnall, M.D. If you are on tamoxifen, I would question why you wish to switch at this time. Is there a medical or psychological reason for the switch? However, there are blood tests to determine one's menopausal status which are relatively accurate at the time they are taken.
- Marisa Weiss, M.D. Meaning that if they show that you are postmenopausal at the time the blood is tested, then you are most likely postmenopausal at that time. Your menopausal status, however, could change if your ovaries decide to "wake up" again at some later time.
- Sandra F. Schnall, M.D. Tamoxifen may be the cause of the development of menopause and oftentimes after stopping it, the ovaries may resume functioning again. My recommendation would be to complete the planned course of tamoxifen, then determine if you're in menopause, and then proceed with alternative hormone treatment.
Marisa Weiss, M.D.
It can be very confusing to know what your menopausal status is. Perhaps, for example, you were premenopausal at diagnosis, then your period stopped during chemotherapy and you haven't gotten the period back. Dr. Schnall and I have had patients who had a "postmenopausal blood test" during the time when the periods had stopped, but who later on, even 2 years later, somehow got their period back. Their blood tests shifted from postmenopausal to premenopausal.
This confusion can lead to uncertainty, not just about what hormonal therapies to choose, but also it brings up issues about fertility. If you were premenopausal at diagnosis and your periods have stopped, be sure to use birth control if you want to avoid pregnancy.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Hormonal Therapy Updates featured Sandra Schnall, M.D. and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about hormonal therapies and answered questions about which ones work best in different situations, how they might fit into your treatment sequence, how to deal with side effects, and more.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in April 2004.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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