Tamoxifen: The Estrogen-Inhibiting Treatment For Cancer

Tamoxifen is usually used in the treatment of certain cancers, such as metastatic cancer, found in both men and women. This is a type of cancer that has spread past the breast. Tamoxifen is also used to prevent cancer in women who are considered to be at a high risk of getting it. Furthermore, Tamoxifen is used in the treatment of a type of breast cancer that affects the lymph nodes, known as node positive breast cancer. It usually occurs in menopausal women. Tamoxifen is also used to treat ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) in women who have already undergone surgery or radiation.

How Tamoxifen Works: Tamoxifen belongs to a class of drugs known as selective estrogen receptor modulators or SERMs for short. Tamoxifen works by binding to the estrogen receptors on cancerous cells, mostly in breast tissue. These cells usually grow through reaction with estrogen. Hence Tamoxifen, by preventing these cells from binding with estrogen, inhibits their reproduction and thereby limits further growth of the cancer. Tamoxifen is mostly used to treat patients who have already been treated either by surgery or radiation for cancer that has been found to have estrogen receptors. These forms of cancers are known as ER positive cancers.

Tamoxifen Dosage: Your dosage of Tamoxifen is usually determined by your doctor and it is dependent on what it is being used to treat and on the severity of the condition being treated. Tamoxifen can be taken on an empty stomach or with food if it upsets your stomach. You should take Tamoxifen as prescribed by the doctor to ensure its effectiveness. You should also take it at the same time each day. In the treatment of breast cancer the prescribed dosage of Tamoxifen is usually twenty to forty milligrams a day. If the dosage exceeds twenty milligrams a day you should split the dose in half and take it twice a day. In the prevention of cancer the usual dosage is twenty milligrams taken every day for five years.

Precautions Before Taking Tamoxifen: Before you start to take Tamoxifen discuss with your doctor if you have any of the following conditions: allergic reactions to any medication, undergoing treatment with blood thinners or anticoagulants, blood conditions such as deep vein thrombosis, warfarin, a history of liver disease, high blood pressure, inability to walk, diabetes, or a high level of triglycerides in your blood (a type of cholesterol). You should also tell your doctor if you are on chemotherapy or radiation. Discusss with your doctor if you are using any birth control method as Tamoxifen tends to limit the effectiveness of some hormonal birth control methods. If you are pregnant you should speak to your doctor as Tamoxifen may harm an unborn child. You should also not take Tamoxifen while you are breastfeeding.

Side Effects Of Tamoxifen: Side effects associated with the use Tamoxifen include rashes, hives, unexplained swelling or difficulty breathing, which may be an indication that you are allergic to some ingredient in the drug. Some mildly serious side effects of Tamoxifen include hot flashes, swelling of the hands and feet. You may also get headaches, dizziness, depression, vaginal itching or dryness, in some cases increased pain in your joints, bones, or tumor, and some may experience reduced sex drive, especially men. If these symptoms persist, you should speak to your doctor. Other more serious side effects of taking Tamoxifen include changes in your vision, mood swings, exhaustion, swelling of both legs, and unusual vaginal discharge. If you experience any of these you should speak to your doctor for further assistance.

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