Self-Care Tips:

  • Do not stop taking this medication unless your healthcare provider tells you. You may be on it for as long as 5 years.
  • If you are experiencing hot flashes, wearing light clothing, staying in a cool environment, and putting cool cloths on your head may reduce symptoms. Consult you health care provider if these worsen, or become intolerable
  • This medication causes little nausea.  But if you should experience nausea, take anti-nausea medications as prescribed by your doctor, and eat small frequent meals.  Sucking on lozenges and chewing gum may also help.
  • Avoid sun exposure.  Wear SPF 15 (or higher) sunblock and protective clothing.
  • In general, drinking alcoholic beverages should be kept to a minimum or avoided completely.  You should discuss this with your doctor.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Maintain good nutrition.
  • If you experience symptoms or side effects, be sure to discuss them with your health care team.  They can prescribe medications and/or offer other suggestions that are effective in managing such problems.

Monitoring and Testing:

You will be checked regularly by your health care professional while you are taking tamoxifen, to monitor side effects and check your response to therapy.  Periodic blood work to monitor your complete blood count (CBC) as well as the function of other organs (such as your kidneys and liver) may also be ordered by your doctor.

Women will need a gynecologic (GYN) examination before therapy, and during therapy, at regular intervals.  Discuss the appropriate schedule with your health care provider.

How This Drug Works:

Hormones are chemical substances that are produced by glands in the body, which enter the bloodstream and cause effects in other tissues.  For example, the hormone testosterone, made in the testicles and is responsible for male characteristics such as deepening voice and increased body hair.  The use of hormone therapy to treat cancer is based on the observation that receptors for specific hormones that are needed for cell growth are on the surface of some tumor cells.  Hormone therapy can work by stopping the production of a certain hormone, blocking hormone receptors, or substituting chemically similar agents for the active hormone, which cannot be used by the tumor cell.  The different types of hormone therapies are categorized by their function and/or the type of hormone that is affected.

Tamoxifen is an antiestrogen.  Antiestrogens bind to estrogen receptor site on cancer cells thus blocking estrogen from going into the cancer cell.  This interferes with cell growth and eventually leads to cell death. The following are antiestrogen medications.

  • tamoxifen, toremifene

Note:  We strongly encourage you to talk with your health care professional about your specific medical condition and treatments. The information contained in this website is meant to be helpful and educational, but is not a substitute for medical advice.