Tamoxifen is a medication that causes the effects of estrogen in the body to be blocked. Typically, this is the drug that is used to treat breast cancer in men and women- but it can also be used for the treatment of other cancers, as determined by your physician.
In addition, this drug can be used to reduce risk for developing breast cancer in those individuals who have a high risk of doing so.
Women who are at a higher risk for developing this cancer are 35 or older, and have a combination of other risk factors that can increase their chances of developing this cancer 1.67 percent or more over a five year period. Your physician can help you to determine your risk for developing breast cancer.
Risk Factors for Breast Cancer
Following are a few of the most common risk factors that increase an individual’s chance for developing breast cancer:
- Close family members such as mom, daughter, or sister, who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
- Breast biopsy or high-risk changes in breasts found during a breast biopsy.
- Never been pregnant or first pregnancy occurred at a later age.
- First menstrual period occurred at a younger age.
While medical experts are not clear on the way that this drug acts against cancer it could have something to do with the way it blocks the effects of the estrogen hormone on your body.
This drug is only available with a prescription from your physician. Before you begin taking this drug, you should discuss the risks and benefits with your physician.
You probably already know that once a drug has been approved for a specific use and placed on the market, experience sometimes reveals that it is also useful for treating other medical conditions.
While these particular uses are not included in the product labeling, this drug could also be used in individuals with the following conditions:
- Cancer of the uterine lining
- Breast cancer in post-menopausal women
- Malignant melanoma
Tamoxifen is available in the following forms:
As already mentioned, before you take a particular medication, you should discuss the benefits and the risks and decide whether or not you should take it.
When it comes to tamoxifen, you should consider the following:
Allergies: you should make sure that you let your physician know whether you have had any allergic reactions to tamoxifen or other medications. You should also let him/her know if you have allergies to specific foods, animals, preservatives, or dyes.
Geriatric: there are many medications on the market that have not been studied in older individuals. Therefore, it may not be clear whether they will react in the same way as they do in younger individuals.
While there has been no specific information regarding tamoxifen in the elderly, it is not expected to result in different side effects or cause issues in the elderly population than it does in the younger population.
Pregnancy: there have been studies in pregnant women that have proved that tamoxifen causes a risk to the fetus in all trimesters. However, the benefits of this therapy may outweigh the risks.
Breastfeeding: there have been no significant studies to determine the risk of complications to an infant when this drug is taken while breastfeeding.
However, take the time to weigh the overall benefits against the risks when taking this drug if you are breastfeeding.
Drug interactions: in some cases, there are specific drugs that should never be used together at all- while in other cases, there are two (or more) medications that can be used together even if an interaction could occur.
If this is the case, your physician may wish to change your dosage or take other precautions. When you are taking tamoxifen, it is your responsibility to let your physician know if you are taking any other drugs that could cause interactions.
Other interactions: in addition to avoiding (or taking precautions with) specific medications and tamoxifen, there are certain drugs that should not be taken with food or with certain types of foods since it can cause interactions to occur. Speak with your physician about the use of tamoxifen with specific foods, tobacco, or alcohol.
Other medical problems: the presence of other medical issues can affect the use of tamoxifen- so, be sure to tell your physician if you have any of the following medical issues:
- Cataracts/other eye issues
- Blood problems
- High cholesterol levels
- Blood clots
- Pulmonary embolism
- Uterine/womb cancer
However, the medication tamoxifen has not been proven to cause or contribute to bladder spasms of any sort.
When using tamoxifen, you should specifically follow the directions of your physician. Never use more or less and never use it more often than your physician prescribed it for.
Your physician has carefully determined the amount of medication that you need to be taking for your condition. If you take too much- it may cause an increase in the risk for side effects and not taking enough may not offer any improvement to your disease.
In some cases, this drug can result in mild nausea and even vomiting. However, you may need to take it for several weeks or even months in order to be effective.
If you do start to feel ill, you should speak with your physician before you stop taking the medication. You should speak with your physician for ways to cope with these side effects.
If you do vomit after taking a dose, you should speak with your physician. He or she will let you know whether you should take another dose or just wait and take the next dose as scheduled.
Dosages will be different for different individuals. You should follow the directions on the label or the directions your physician gives you. The amount that you will be taking depends upon the strength of the drug.
In addition, the number of doses taken each day, the time lapse between doses, and the length of time the medication will be taken will depend up on the specific medical condition you have been diagnosed with.