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How it works
Common side effects
deep vein thrombosis, genital itching, nausea, calf or thigh pain or swelling in the legs; discomfort in the pelvis such as pain or pressure; lung or liver dysfunction., Hot flushes, light-headedness, skin rash, leg cramps, changes in vision, discharge or unusual bleeding from your vagina, vomiting, thinning of your hair, fluid retention, changes in your periods, temporary reduction in the number of blood cells, fibroids, and cancer, pulmonary embolism, hypersensitivity reactions, bruise, an increased risk of blood clots, bone and tumor pain, headache, weight gain, cysts on the ovaries
Tamoxifen – What is it?
Sold under the trade name of Nolvadex, Tamoxifen is an anti-carcinogenic drug that acts against cancer. In simple words, some cancerous cells grow on estrogen. The cancerous cells have estrogen receptors that get attached to estrogen and multiply the growth of cancerous cells. What Tamoxifen does is, with its ability to attach to estrogen without activating it, gets attached to the estrogen and prevents the cancerous cells from binding with the estrogen and multiplying the cancerous cells. It is usually used in treating breast cancer and is known for its effectiveness on cancerous cells that have spread throughout the body. The drug, apart from being prescribed to people suffering from breast cancer, is also prescribed for reducing the chances of developing breast cancer for women who are exposed to a high risk of developing it. For instance, women whose family members have been diagnosed with breast cancer can take this drug to reduce the risk of developing the disease.
The effectiveness of this was put forth by a study that was carried for over 5 years on about 1500 women. The study showed that the intake of Tamoxifen reduced the chances of development of breast cancer in women by about 44 percent. This effective drug for breast cancer is also used to treat ailments relating to others and not to breast cancer.
Tamoxifen – Some Important Information
Classified by the FDA under the D category of medications, you should not intake Tamoxifen if you are pregnant. If you are pregnant and have consumed this medicine, the aftereffects can prove harmful for the baby. In case you are using any birth control while taking this medication, use contraceptions like condoms, spermicide or diaphragm, and continue using this form of contraception for at least the next two months after you have stopped the intake of this drug. Besides this, it is also suggested that you take up a pregnancy test before you start taking Tamoxifen.
Further, if you are allergic to Tamoxifen or have had blood clots in veins, lungs or if you are taking warfarin, do not take Tamoxifen. You should also notify your doctor about any previous liver diseases, cholesterol, stroke, cataract or blood clots that you have had in the past. If you are undergoing radiation or chemotherapy treatment, make sure you inform him regarding the same as well. The intake of this drug may even increase the risk of uterine cancer, blood clots and stroke, which can turn out to be fatal. Though it depends on the individual nature of the body, you have to still take up several self-exams or mammograms and liver tests if you wish to opt for safer use of Tamoxifen.
If you are someone who suspects you are under a threat of developing breast cancer because some of your family members were diagnosed and treated with breast cancer and intends to use Tamoxifen as a preventive source for breast cancer, make sure you start the medication during your menstrual period. This is a general practice, as far as the intake of this medicine in such cases is concerned. However, it is good to have it confirmed and consulted with a doctor or a physical practitioner before taking up the medicine.
Tamoxifen Intake – Best Practices
One of the first things you should remember is that you must consult with your doctor before you start with the intake of this drug. The best practice for taking the drug is with water, and it does not matter if you take it after eating food or in an empty stomach. Also, it is important that you do not change the course of the dosage, as it will lead to consequences that can be harmful, fatal or completely nullify the effectiveness of the drug. A regular intake of medicine will show better results. So, try not to skip doses and always refill the drug before the pack that you are currently using now ends. Again, you should consult with the doctor if you should continue with this dosage, and then go for refilling. You should also remember that this medicine is not an anti-biotic class of drug that needs to be consumed or compensated for the skipped doses. It is a drug that requires no intake in additional amounts. In case you have skipped a dose during the medication period, never try to compensate for it, and just carry on with your regular dose. This is because if you overdose, you may have to face serious consequences.
Similar to the way the side effects depend on the nature of the body of each and every individual, the dosage depends on a number of criteria. Generally, it depends on factors like age, gender, physical condition and more. Your doctor will examine you completely and then fix the dosage based on the inferences, which should not be changed or altered under any case. Tamoxifen and Other Drugs
Before you start with the medication, you should notify your doctor regarding whatever medicines or drugs that you are taking currently. One of the major reasons for this is because there are a number of medicines that react with Tamoxifen and interfere with its working. Some of the drugs that interfere with its working include clozapine, isoniazid, ropinirole, some of the anti-malarial drugs like pyrimethamine, quinine, chloroquine and some anti-biotic as well. Apart from this, there may be also some drugs that can possibly interact with Tamoxifen. Hence, it is always better to consult with the doctor before you start with the medication.
Food options to avoid when taking Tamoxifen
Though this does not affect in major ways as far as Tamoxifen is concerned, it is still recommended that you avoid food options like soy and soy-based products during the medication. However, you can consult with your doctor for such food options to learn about their effects on the effectiveness of the medicine. In case the doctor approves the consumption of soy and its derivative products, you can go ahead with its consumptions; but if he says no to it, do not take it at any cost.
- you are allergic (hypersensitive) to tamoxifen or any other ingredients.
- you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- you are taking anastrozole to treat breast cancer.