Generic Name: tamoxifen
- What is tamoxifen?
- What are the possible side effects of tamoxifen?
- What is the most important information I should know about tamoxifen?
- What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking tamoxifen?
- How should I take tamoxifen?
- What happens if I miss a dose?
- What happens if I overdose?
- What should I avoid while taking tamoxifen?
- What other drugs will affect tamoxifen?
- Where can I get more information?
What is tamoxifen?
Tamoxifen blocks the actions of estrogen, a female hormone. Certain types of breast cancer require estrogen to grow.
Tamoxifen is used to treat some types of breast cancer in men and women. Tamoxifen is also used to lower a woman's chance of developing breast cancer if she has a high risk (such as a family history of breast cancer).
Tamoxifen may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
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What are the possible side effects of tamoxifen?
- signs of a stroke--sudden numbness or weakness (especially on one side of the body), sudden severe headache, slurred speech, problems with vision or balance;
- signs of a blood clot in the lung--chest pain, sudden cough, wheezing, rapid breathing, coughing up blood; or
- signs of a blood clot in your leg--pain, swelling, warmth, or redness in one or both legs.
Also call your doctor at once if you have:
- blurred vision, tunnel vision, eye pain, or seeing halos around lights;
- unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge;
- changes in your menstrual periods;
- pain or pressure in your pelvic area;
- a new breast lump;
- liver problems--nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, tired feeling, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes); or
- high levels of calcium in your blood--vomiting, constipation, increased thirst or urination, muscle weakness, bone pain, confusion, lack of energy, or tired feeling.
Common side effects may include:
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What is the most important information I should know about tamoxifen?
What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking tamoxifen?
You should not use tamoxifen if you are allergic to it.
You should not use tamoxifen to reduce your risk of breast cancer if you are also taking a blood thinner such as warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven).
Do not take tamoxifen if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Avoid becoming pregnant while you are using this medicine, and for at least 2 months after your treatment ends.
Hormonal contraception (such as birth control pills, injections, implants, skin patches, and vaginal rings) may not be effective enough to prevent pregnancy while taking tamoxifen. Ask your doctor about using non hormonal birth control (condom, diaphragm with spermicide, or intrauterine device/IUD).
If you are taking tamoxifen to reduce your risk of breast cancer, you may need to take your first dose while you are having a menstrual period. You may also need to have a pregnancy test before you start taking tamoxifen, to make sure you are not pregnant. Follow your doctor's instructions.
Taking tamoxifen may increase your risk of uterine cancer, stroke, or a blood clot in the lung, which can be fatal. Talk with your doctor about your specific risks in taking this medicine.
To make sure tamoxifen is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
- a history of stroke or blood clot;
- liver disease;
- high cholesterol or triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood);
- a history of cataracts; or
- if you are receiving chemotherapy or radiation.
It is not known whether tamoxifen passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. This medicine may slow breast milk production. You should not breast-feed while taking tamoxifen.
How should I take tamoxifen?
Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.
Measure liquid medicine with the dosing syringe provided, or with a special dose-measuring spoon or medicine cup. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.
Tamoxifen can be taken with or without food.
While using tamoxifen, you may need frequent blood tests.
If you need surgery or medical tests or if you will be on bed rest, you may need to stop using this medicine for a short time. Any doctor or surgeon who treats you should know that you are taking tamoxifen.
Have regular physical exams and mammograms, and self-examine your breasts for lumps on a monthly basis while using this medicine.
Use tamoxifen regularly to get the most benefit. Get your prescription refilled before you run out of medicine completely. You may need to keep using this medication for up to 5 years.
Store at room temperature away from moisture, heat, or cold. Do not freeze.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
What should I avoid while taking tamoxifen?
This medicine can pass into body fluids (urine, feces, vomit). Caregivers should wear rubber gloves while cleaning up a patient's body fluids, handling contaminated trash or laundry or changing diapers. Wash hands before and after removing gloves. Wash soiled clothing and linens separately from other laundry.
What other drugs will affect tamoxifen?
Many drugs can interact with tamoxifen, and some drugs should not be used together. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide. Tell your doctor about all medicines you use, and those you start or stop using during your treatment with tamoxifen. Give a list of all your medicines to any healthcare provider who treats you.
Where can I get more information?
Your pharmacist can provide more information about tamoxifen.
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