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Trade name: Saltamox
Drug type: Tamoxifen is also called by its brand name Saltamox. It is a hormone treatment developed over thirty years ago to treat breast cancer. Tamoxifen prevents oestrogen from going into breast cancer cells. Oestrogen can stimulate some breast cancer cells to divide and grow. Tamoxifen lowers the risk of breast cancer coming back (recurring) or developing in the other breast. It is occasionally used to treat other types of cancer, but the information here refers to its use for breast cancer.
Many breast cancers are stimulated to grow by the female sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone. These breast cancers are ‘hormone sensitive’ or ‘hormone receptor positive’ and can be treated with drugs that block the effects of these hormones.
Tamoxifen is usually prescribed for women who are ER positive. That means, that oestrogen receptors (ER) have been found on their breast cancer cells. The oestrogen receptor is the part of the breast cancer cell that oestrogen locks on to, stimulating the cell to multiply. Tamoxifen is able to lock on to the oestrogen receptor and stop the oestrogen from getting to the cancer cell.
To find out if your cancer has hormone receptors, your specialist will arrange tests on your breast cancer cells. Your specialist may also prescribe tamoxifen if your cancer cells are ER negative, but have progesterone receptors (are PR positive). Unlike some types of hormone treatment, women can have treatment with tamoxifen both before and after the menopause.
How you have treatment
Tamoxifen comes as a tablet or liquid that you swallow. You take it daily. You may find it easiest to take it at the same time every day.
Common side effects
Many people will have one or more of the following side effects
Occasional side effects
Some people will have one or more of the following effects
Rare side effects
A few people may have the following effects
Tamoxifen can react with the drug warfarin. If you are taking warfarin you will need to have regular blood tests, and your dose of warfarin may need to be adjusted.
Important things to remember
The side effects above may be mild or more severe. A side effect may get better or worse through your course of treatment, or more side effects may develop as the course goes on. This depends on
Some side effects are inconvenient or upsetting but not damaging to your health.
Some side effects are serious medical conditions and need treating. Where we have urged you to contact your doctor, this is because
Tell your doctor about any other medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbal supplements and other over the counter remedies – some drugs can react together.
Talk to your doctor, pharmacist or nurse about all your side effects so that they can help you manage them. You should have a contact number for your chemotherapy nurse, clinic or ward nurse. You can ring if you have any questions or problems. They can give you advice or reassure you. If in doubt, call them.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 21 January 2010 09:59|