The drug Tamoxifen is used to prevent and treat breast cancer. Patients with a high risk for developing breast cancer may also take this drug. Patients receive this medication after surgery to prevent the development of additional tumors. When used for metastic breast cancer, Tamoxifen keeps cancer cells already in the body from growing.
The drug has been used in women and men as a treatment for breast cancer in the US since 1977. Doctors have prescribed the medication to women with a high risk for breast cancer for over ten years. Patients with hormone sensitive breast cancer generally respond well to treatment with tamoxifen. In this type of cancer, the breast cancer cells need estrogen to grow. The medication interferes with estrogen activity in the breasts; however, the rest of the body views it as an estrogen-like substance. Women may receive benefits from taking Tamoxifen similar to those obtained with estrogen replacement therapy.
Tamoxifen comes in tablet form and is taken by mouth. When used to treat for breast cancer, patients generally take the drug for up to five years. Several studies confirm the benefit of taking the drug for this length of time. Women in the study took Tamoxifen for five years and reduced their chances for suffering a recurrence of the original cancer in the same breast or in other parts of the body. When used to prevent breast cancer, studies show the medication reduces the risk of developing invasive breast cancer and noninvasive breast tumors.
Side effects experienced by women taking this drug may include: hot flashes, vaginal discharge and other symptoms similar to those experienced during menopause. Men may experience side effects such as: headaches, nausea, impotence or decreased sexual interest. More serious side effects can include: blood clots, strokes, uterine cancer and cataracts. The risks of experiencing serious side effects is small. Studies demonstrate patients experience significant benefits from taking this medication. However, it is best to discuss concerns you may have with your doctor.
If you suffer from certain medical conditions or take other medications, discuss this with your doctor before taking Tamoxifen. Tamoxifen should never be used during pregnancy. It can increase fertility and should not be used with oral contraceptives. Tamoxifen is available in generic forms, making the drug much more affordable. This drug may help you live a longer life, free of cancer, so ask your doctor about taking Tamoxifen today.
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