There has been a lot in the press recently about Tamoxifen and it’s benefits. I thought a blog post on the subject would be interesting and I hope you enjoy it.
What is Tamoxifen?
Tamoxifen is a hormone therapy used to treat breast cancer both before and after the menopause. It can also be used to treat other cancer types but the research I looked into focused on breast cancer, as with this post.
How It Works:
Many types of breast cancer are hormone sensitive and are stimulated by oestrogen and progesterone and Tamoxifen is usually prescribed for women with these types of breast cancer as their cancer cells have oestrogen recepters. The receptor is part of the breast cancer cell and the oestrogen attaches itself to this and stimulates the cell, causing it to divide and grow. Tamoxifen blocks this receptor. It also lowers the risk of the cancer returning after surgery as well as lowers the risk of the cancer developing in the other breast.
Male breast cancer is rare but it can also be treated with Tamoxifen if the same receptors are found.
Treatment with Tamoxifen:
Tamoxifen can either be prescribed as a liquid or tablet and is taken daily.
Common Side Effects:
*Hot Flushes and Sweats – these affect around 45% of women taking Tamoxifen
*Period Changes – If you take Tamoxifen before entering the menopause then you may find your periods become irregular or stop altogether. They suaully restart around six to twelve months after you finish your course of Tamoxifen, unless you are nearing the menopause.
*Fatigue – around 25% of women taking Tamoxifen suffer from tiredness and fatigue.
*Pain in Joints- Around 25% of women taking Tamoxifen suffer from painful joints
*Sickness – Around 20% of women taking Tamoxifen suffer from sickness but this can usually be treated with anti sickness tablets.
TAMOXIFEN IS NOT A CONTRACEPTIVE AND IT IS STILL POSSIBLE TO BECOME PREGNANT WHILST TAKING IT SO PLEASE SEEK ADVICE ON CONTRACEPTION FROM YOUR DOCTOR. TAMOXIFEN MAY HAVE A HARMFUL EFFECT ON A DEVELOPING FOETUS.
Occasional Side Effects:
*Vaginal Discharge or Vaginal Dryness
*Fluid Retention or Weight Gain
Rare Side Effects:
*Tumour Flare – If you have cancer that has spread to your bones then you may suffer from increased pain whilst taking Tamoxifen.
*Thrombosis – Your risk of blood clots can be slightly increased whilst taking Tamoxifen.
*Liver Changes – This are usually very mild and your liver will normally go back to nromla after treatment. Liver function tests may be needed.
*Eye Problems – Your eyesight may change but this should be checked out
*A Skin Rash may occur
*Womb Cancer – Your risk of developing womb cancer increases very slightly whilst taking Tamoxifen
A recent study has indicated that breast cancer is less likely to reoccur in women that have taken Tamoxifen for ten years rather then the previously recommended five years. It is estimated that taking the drug for ten years reduces breast cancer deaths by a third for the first ten years and by half after that.
I hope you found this blog post informative. Please visit www.cancerresearchuk.org for more information. I would be very interested to hear from any women that have taken Tamoxifen in the past or are currently taking it so please do get in touch if you have/are!