What is Tamoxifen ?
Tamoxifen also sold under the trade name Nolvadex arrests the actions of estrogen, a female sex hormone. Some forms of breast cancer depend on growing level of estrogen and are known as hormone-sensitive or hormone-receptor-positive cancers.
Tamoxifen is prescribed for certain forms of breast cancer in women and men. This medication is also used to reduce the risk of breast cancer in women who have a high risk of developing it. For example, women who have a family history of breast cancer.
Tamoxifen may also be given for conditions not mentioned above.
Important Information about Tamoxifen
Tamoxifen is classified as FDA category D and not recommended if you are pregnant as it could be harmful to you unborn baby. If you are using birth control, then while taking this medication; employ a barrier form of contraception like condom, diaphragm or spermicide. Continue to use this form of contraception for at least 2 months after you stop taking Tamoxifen. Hormonal form of contraception (contraceptive pills, injections, vaginal rings, or others) will not work effectively with Tamoxifen. You must have a pregnancy test before taking this medication to be absolutely sure.
You must not take Tamoxifen medication if you are allergic to tamoxifen, or if you have had blood clots in your veins or lungs in the past, or if you are taking a blood thinner like warfarin. Before taking Tamoxifen, notify your doctor if you have liver disease; high cholesterol; cataract, stroke, or blood clot in the past. Also tell him or her if you are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment.
If you are taking Tamoxifen as a preventive medication to lower the risk of getting breast cancer, you may have to take the first dose during your menstrual period. Talk to your doctor about it and follow all advices.
Tamoxifen may increase the risk of stroke, uterine cancer, or blood clot in lungs that can be fatal. Consult your doctor about specific risks according to your condition. To ensure safe use of Tamoxifen, you may be required to have several mammograms and regular breast self exams. Your liver function may also be monitored. Don’t skip on these tests.
Before taking Tamoxifen
Consult your doctor before taking Tamoxifen. Take care of all the precautions listed above before starting this medication course.
How should I take Tamoxifen?
You must take Tamoxifen strictly as directed by your doctor. Do not change the dosage in any way as that can lead to worsening of your condition, harmful side effects or total ineffectiveness of the medication. Take Tamoxifen with a glass of water. It can be taken with or without food. If you are using Tamoxifen as a preventive method to reduce the likelihood of breast cancer, you may have to take the first dose during your menstrual period. Ask your doctor about it.
Take Tamoxifen doses regularly and on time for best results. Order or get a refill before the existing medication ends. Refill must be done with doctor’s prescription only. Always store Tamoxifen in a cool and dry area, away from children and pets.
What if I miss a dose of Tamoxifen?
If you miss a dose of Tamoxifen, then take it as soon as you remember but if the time to take the next dose is near, skip the missed dose. Never take extra doses at the same time or near to each other to compensate for the missed dose.
What if I overdose?
If you overdose on Tamoxifen and experience any serious conditions, seek emergency medical help or call the?Doctor immediately.
Things to avoid while taking Tamoxifen
Soy and soy products are not recommended while taking Tamoxifen so avoid consuming them unless or otherwise permitted by your doctor.
Tamoxifen Side Effects
Tamoxifen may or may not lead to side effects. But if you allergic reactions to it like hives; breathing difficulty; swelling in face, mouth, lips, or throat; stop using the medication and get medical help immediately.
Some serious side effects of Tamoxifen include unexpected numbness or weakness (on one side of the body); chest pain; unexpected coughing, wheezing; irregular heartbeat; increased thirst; warmth or redness in both legs; nausea; vomiting; loss of appetite; abnormal menstrual periods; pain or pressure in pelvic region; unexplained vaginal bleeding or discharge; vision problems like blurriness, eye pain, or witnessing halos around light sources; chills; body aches; fever; or flu symptoms. Get urgent medical attention in case of these dangerous side effects.
You may witness some less serious but common side effects while taking Tamoxifen like hot flashes; hari thinning; bone or joint pain; swelling in hand or feet; itching or dryness in vagina; lower libido; impotence; or difficulty in having an orgasm; giddiness; or depression.
The list of side effects mentioned above is not a complete one and there may be other side effects. Do ask your doctor about the side effects.?
Tamoxifen Dosing Information
Tamoxifen dose depends on various factors like condition, age, sex and a host of other factors. Your doctor will fix the dosage after carefully examining your condition. Stick to this dosage strictly. Don’t alter it under any circumstances without a doctor’s advice.
Interaction with other drugs
There are several drugs which may interfere with the working of Tamoxifen. Let your doctor know about all your present medications. Few drugs which may interfere with Tamoxifen are cimetidine, clozapine, bromocriptine, isoniazid, letrozole, pioglitazone, methimazole, cyclophosphamide, ticlopidine, ropinirole, rifampin, anti-malaria drugs like chloroquine, pyrimethamine or quinine, some antibiotics like terbinafine, antidepressants like imipramine, buporpion, desipramine, or others, anti retrovirals like ritonavir or delavirdine, heart rhythm drugs like amiodarone or quinidine, psychiatric disorder drugs like haloperidol, chlorpromazine, or thioridazine.
The above list of drugs is non exhaustive and there may be other drugs which may interact with Tamoxifen. Consult your doctor about this.