Tamoxifen is prescribed for the treatment of breast cancer that has metastasized in both men and women. It is also indicated for the management of early-stage breast cancer in women who have previously undergone surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy. It can diminish the risk of developing a more severe form of breast cancer in women who have had ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), a type of breast cancer that remains confined within the milk duct, and have undergone surgical intervention and radiation therapy.
Tamoxifen operates through its classification as an antiestrogen medication by impeding the activity of estrogen, a hormone predominantly found in females. This mechanism of action may hinder the growth of certain types of breast tumors that are dependent on estrogen for proliferation.
Uses and Dosage
To take this medication, swallow it orally with or without food, usually once or twice daily for a duration of five years, or as per your physician’s directions. Daily dosages exceeding 20 milligrams are usually split in half and taken twice daily, in the morning and evening, or as prescribed by your doctor.
If you are using the liquid formulation, be sure to measure the dose carefully with a specialized measuring device or spoon. Do not use a regular household spoon as it may lead to incorrect dosages.
The appropriate dosage of this medication is determined based on your medical condition and response to treatment. The duration of treatment to prevent cancer recurrence may range from 5 to 10 years, depending on your individual medical status and treatment response.
To obtain the maximum benefit of this medication, use it consistently. To assist you in remembering, take it at the same time(s) each day.
If you are being treated for breast cancer that has metastasized, you may initially experience increased cancer or bone pain, or even a disease flare-up upon initiating tamoxifen therapy. In some cases, these symptoms may be indicative of a positive reaction to the medication. Symptoms may include heightened bone pain, enlarged tumor size, or the appearance of new tumors, all of which generally disappear quickly. Always inform your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.
As this drug can be absorbed through the skin and lungs, women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should not handle this medication or breathe in the dust from the tablets.
Notify your physician if your condition deteriorates, such as if you notice the development of new breast lumps.
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention:
- increased bone or tumor pain
- pain or reddening around the tumor site
- hot flashes
- excessive tiredness
- thinning of hair
- weight loss
- stomach cramps
- loss of sexual desire or ability
Inform your healthcare provider immediately if you experience any serious side effects:
- vision problems
- loss of appetite
- yellowing of the skin or eyes
- unusual bruising or bleeding
- swelling of the eyes, face, lips, tongue, throat, hands, arms, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- muscle weakness
Prior to taking tamoxifen, inform your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to the medication or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients that could potentially trigger allergic reactions or other complications.
Before using this medication, notify your doctor or pharmacist of your medical history, particularly if you have had blood clots (such as deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, or stroke), high cholesterol/triglycerides, limited or no mobility, diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, cataracts, or liver disease.
Before undergoing surgery (particularly breast reconstruction), inform your doctor or dentist about all the products you are using, including prescription drugs, non-prescription drugs, and herbal products.
Inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. You should not become pregnant while using tamoxifen since it may harm the unborn baby. Women who are taking this medication should inquire about reliable non-hormonal birth control methods (such as condoms or diaphragms with spermicide) during treatment and for two months after stopping the medication. Men who are taking this medication should inquire about reliable birth control methods during treatment and for six months after stopping the medication. If you or your partner become pregnant, speak with your doctor regarding the risks and benefits of using this medication.
Breastfeeding is not recommended while taking this drug and for three months after discontinuing treatment due to the potential risk to the infant. Consult your doctor before breastfeeding.
Form and Strength
Nolvadex is available in the following forms and strengths:
How does Nolvadex make you feel?
The most common side effects of tamoxifen are menopausal symptoms such as: Hot flushes. Night sweats and sleep disturbance. Vaginal irritation such as dryness and itching.
Can you drink alcohol on Nolvadex?
Alcohol can raise the risk of side effects with tamoxifen, some of which can be serious. Alcohol makes it harder for tamoxifen to work properly and should be limited or avoided while you’re taking this medication.