Tamoxifen is used to treat breast cancer. It is also used to reduce the chances of breast cancer in high-risk patients. This medication can block the growth of breast cancer. It works by interfering with the effects of estrogen in the breast tissue.

Nolvadex (tamoxifen citrate)

For those that are diagnosed early with breast cancer or you have late stage or advanced breast cancer that has spread, your doctor may recommend taking Nolvadex (also called Nolvadex). You may also be prescribed Nolvadex to take after surgery, chemo, and radiation therapies are done in order to help stop the cancer from returning. If you are a premenopausal woman, Nolvadex or generic Tamoxifen Citrate could be the first choice for treatment and also for postmenopausal women that cannot take an aromatase inhibitor as their first-line therapy. Men are also at risk for breast cancer and may be prescribed Nolvadex for treating it but it will not prevent breast cancer from occurring. The generic alternative is not manufactured by the company that makes the brand product.

Nolvadex is a selective estrogen receptor modulator, or SERM. When taken as directed, Tamoxifen Citrate will work to block the estrogen receptors in your breast cells so there is no room for estrogen and it is not able to attach to the cell. As long as estrogen is not attached to a breast cell, there is no signal received to grow and multiply. The hormone-receptor-positive breast cancers grow from estrogen so by reducing or blocking this hormone, you are able to lower your risk of this cancer recurring.

If you are at an increased risk for breast cancer, you may be advised that Nolvadex can help reduce this risk. Estrogen-receptor positive breast cancers are more common than estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer that are also progesterone-receptor-positive. Hormonal therapy is not the same as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) that some women opt for to reduce their menopausal symptoms by lowering the levels of essential hormones. Some women may choose to have their ovaries removed as a pre-emptive maneuver to reduce the risk of estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer so the cancer cells will not be activated without the presence of estrogen. Your ovaries are the main source for estrogen, but not the only source. Early diagnosis is very important for successful treatment.

How to use

Read the Medication Guide provided by your pharmacist before you start using tamoxifen and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, consult your doctor or pharmacist. Take this medication by mouth with or without food, usually once or twice daily for 5 years, or as directed by your doctor. Daily dosages greater than 20 milligrams are usually divided in half and taken twice a day, in the morning and evening, or as directed by your doctor. If you are using the liquid, measure the dose carefully using a special measuring device spoon. Do not use a household spoon because you may not get the correct dose. Dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment. The duration of treatment to prevent cancer from returning may be between 5 to 10 years, depending on your medical condition and response to treatment. Use this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, take it at the same time(s) each day. If you have breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, you may experience increased bone cancer pain or disease flare-up as you start taking tamoxifen. In some cases, this may be a sign of a good response to the medication. Symptoms include increased bone pain, increased tumor size, or even new tumors. These symptoms usually disappear quickly. In any case, report these symptoms right away to your doctor. Since 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 the dust from the tablets. Inform your doctor right away if your condition worsens.

Side effects

Hot flashes, nausea, leg cramps, muscle aches, hair thinning, headache, and numb/tingling skin may occur. A loss of sexual ability/interest may occur in men. If these effects persist or worsen, notify your doctor promptly. Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects. Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: vision changes (e.g., blurred vision), eye pain, easy bruising/bleeding, mental/mood changes, swelling of ankles/feet, unusual tiredness, signs of infection (e.g., fever, persistent sore throat), signs of liver disease (e.g., nausea/vomiting that doesn't stop, loss of appetite, stomach/abdominal pain, yellowing eyes/skin, dark urine). A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.

This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist. In the US - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch. In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.

Precautions

Before taking tamoxifen, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details. Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: blood clots (e.g., deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, stroke), high cholesterol/triglycerides, limited or no ability to walk (immobility), diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, cataracts, liver disease. Before having surgery (especially breast reconstruction), tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products). Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. You should not become pregnant while using tamoxifen. Tamoxifen may harm an unborn baby. Women using this medication should ask about reliable non-hormonal forms of birth control (such as condoms, diaphragms with spermicide) during treatment and for 2 months after stopping treatment. Men using this medication should ask about reliable forms of birth control during treatment and for 6 months after stopping treatment. If you or your partner become pregnant, talk to your doctor right away about the risks and benefits of this medication. It is unknown if this medication passes into breast milk. Because of the possible risk to the infant, breast-feeding is not recommended while using this drug and for 3 months after stopping treatment. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.

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