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Information about Nolvadex (tamoxifen citrate)

Nolvadex general information

Nolvadex, an anticancer drug, is given to treat breast cancer. It also has proved effective when cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Nolvadex is most effective in stopping the kind of breast cancer that thrives on estrogen.

Nolvadex is also prescribed to reduce the risk of invasive breast cancer following surgery and radiation therapy for ductal carcinoma in situ. The drug can also be used to reduce the odds of breast cancer in women at high risk of developing the disease. It does not completely eliminate your chances, but in a five-year study of over 1,500 high-risk women, it slashed the number of cases by 44 percent.

Nolvadex, a trade name for the drug tamoxifen citrate, is a non-steroidal agent that demonstrates potent antiestrogenic properties.The drug is technically an estrogen agonist/antagonist, which competitively binds to estrogen receptors in various target tissues. With the tamoxifen molecule bound to this receptor, estrogen is blocked from exerting any action, and an antiestrogenic effect is achieved. Since many forms of breast cancer are responsive to estrogen, the ability of tamoxifen citrate to block its action in such cells has proven to be a very effective treatment. It is also utilized successfully as a preventative measure, taken by people with an extremely high familial tendency for breast cancer.

While Nolvadex is effective against estrogen, it is not our strongest available remedy. We now have the drug Arimidex (see: Arimidex) available to us, which notably prevents estrogen from being manufactured in the first place. Altering the effect of estrogen in thefemale body can cause a level of discomfort, so antiestrogens are mostbearable when used after the point of menopause. Since Nolvadex is milder in comparison, it is more widely applicable and usually the first treatment option.

Nolvadex dosage and administration

Use this medicine only as directed by your doctor . Do not use more or less of it, and do not use it more often than your doctor ordered. The exact amount of medicine you need has been carefully worked out. Taking too much may increase the chance of side effects, while taking too little may not improve your condition.

Tamoxifen sometimes causes mild nausea and vomiting. However, it may have to be taken for several weeks or months to be effective. Even if you begin to feel ill, do not stop using this medicine without first checking with your doctor. Ask your health care professional for ways to lessen these effects.

Swallow the tablets whole with a drink of water. You can take the tablets with or without food.

If you vomit shortly after taking a dose of tamoxifen, check with your doctor. You will be told whether to take the dose again or to wait until the next scheduled dose.


The dose of tamoxifen will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of tamoxifen. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

  • For breast cancer in women or men:
    • Adults—20 to 40 milligrams (mg) daily.
  • For reducing the risk of developing breast cancer in high-risk women:
    • Adults—20 milligrams (mg) a day, for five years
  • For reducing the risk of developing invasive breast cancer in women with ductal carcinoma in situ:
    • Adults—20 milligrams (mg) a day, for five years

Nolvadex side effects

Medicines and their possible side effects can affect individual people in different ways. The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with this medicine. Because a side effect is stated here, it does not mean that all people using this medicine will experience that or any side effect

  • Hot flushes
  • Vaginal bleeding or discharge
  • Itching of the external female genitalia (pruritus vulva)
  • Suppression of menstrual periods in pre-menopausal women receiving tamoxifen for breast cancer
  • Stimulation of tumour growth
  • Headache
  • Light-headedness
  • Disturbances of the gut such as diarrhoea, constipation, nausea, vomiting or abdominal pain
  • Fluid retention
  • Hair loss (alopecia)
  • Blood disorders
  • Visual disturbances
  • Liver disorders
  • Increased risk of abnormal blood clots within the blood vessels (thromboembolic disorders)
  • The presence of tissue similar to the lining of the uterus at other sites in the pelvis (endometriosis
  • Cancerous changes in the endometrium (lining of the womb)
  • Fibroids in the womb (uterus)
  • Severe blistering skin reaction affecting the tissues of the eyes, mouth, throat and genitals (Stevens-Johnson Syndrome)
  • Severe swelling of lips, face or tongue (angioedema)

The side effects listed above may not include all of the side effects reported by the drug's manufacturer.

For more information about any other possible risks associated with this medicine, please read the information provided with the medicine or consult your doctor or pharmacist.