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Exemestane is used along with other medications for the treatment of estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer (breast tumors that need estrogen to grow) in postmenopausal women, following 2 to 3 years of tamoxifen therapy. It is also used in later stages of estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer (advanced breast cancer) in postmenopausal women who have not responded to an anti-estrogen therapy earlier.

How it works

Exemestane is an anti-cancer drug which belongs to the class, steroidal aromatase inhibitors. It works by inhibiting aromatase that is responsible for converting other hormones in the body called androgens to estrogens, thereby reducing the amounts of estrogen in the body which in turn slows or stops the growth of breast tumors that need estrogen to grow.

Common side effects

Tingling sensation of extremity, Numbness of extremity, Pain, Rash, Abdominal pain, Constipation, Depression, Diarrhoea, Dizziness, Fracture, Headache, Hot flashes, Increased sweating, Indigestion, Insomnia, Limb swelling, Loss of appetite, Nausea, Vomiting, Fatigue


Expert advice

  • Exemestane should only be used in women who have reached menopause and cannot become pregnant. You should confirm your post-menopausal status through hormonal tests (LH, FSH and estradiol levels) before starting exemestane therapy.
  • Exemestane should not be co-administered with estrogen-containing medications (such as hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills) as these can interfere with its action.
  • Regular examinations to monitor reductions in bone mineral density and elevations in certain blood tests (AST, ALT, alkaline phosphatase and gamma glutamyl transferase, bilirubin, creatinine) are recommended in women receiving exemestane.
  • Take precautions while driving or operating machinery as exemestane is known to cause drowsiness, sleepiness (somnolence), weakness (asthenia) and dizziness.

Frequently asked questions


Q. Is exemestane a steroid/ contains steroids?
 It has a steroidal structure and inhibits hormone aromatase in the body.

Q. Is exemestane a chemo drug?
Exemestane is an anti-cancer drug used in the chemotherapy of estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer (breast tumors that need estrogen to grow) in postmenopausal women.
Q. Is exemestane safe?
Exemestane is relatively safe if used at prescribed doses for the prescribed duration as advised by your doctor.
Q. Does exemestane cause hair loss/ diarrhea/ depression/ osteoporosis?
Hair loss (alopecia), diarrhea, depression, thinning and weakening of bones (osteoporosis) are among the known side effects of exemestane.
Q. Does exemestane cause weight gain/ bloating or heart failure?
Heart failure and weight gain are rare side effects observed. Bloating is not among the known side effects of exemestane. However, please consult your doctor if you experience such side effect.
Q. Is exemestane a good PCT?
Exemestane is an aromatase inhibitor used as a post cycle therapy (PCT) to regulate hormone levels in the body following a course of anabolic steroids (pro-hormone therapies commonly used for muscle building by body builders).

Q. Does exemestane cause gyno?
 It prevents gynecomastia, colloquially referred to as ‘gyno’ (enlargement of breasts in men), a common side effect of anabolic steroids.

Content on this page was last updated on 15 October, 2016, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)