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All about: Nolvadex

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Generic Name: tamoxifen (ta MOX i fen)
Brand Names: Nolvadex

What is Nolvadex (tamoxifen)?

Tamoxifen blocks the actions of estrogen, a female hormone. Certain types of breast cancer require estrogen to grow.

Tamoxifen is used to treat and prevent some types of breast cancer.

Tamoxifen may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.

What is the most important information I should know about Nolvadex (tamoxifen)?

Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are pregnant. It could cause harm to the unborn baby. Use an effective form of birth control, and tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment.

Before using tamoxifen, tell your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs, or if you have liver disease, high triglycerides (fatty acids) in your blood, a history of cataract, or a history of stroke or blood clot. Also tell your doctor if you if you are receiving chemotherapy or radiation treatment.

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 medication.

To be sure this medication is not causing harmful effects, your doctor may want you to have mammograms and to perform routine breast self exams on a regular basis. Your liver function may also need to be tested. Do not miss any scheduled visits to your doctor.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking Nolvadex (tamoxifen)?

Do not use this medication if you are allergic to tamoxifen.

Before using tamoxifen, tell your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs, or if you have:

  • liver disease;

  • high levels of triglycerides (fatty acids) in your blood;

  • a history of stroke or blood clot;

  • a history of cataract; or

  • if you are receiving chemotherapy or radiation treatment.

If you have any of these conditions, you may not be able to use tamoxifen, or you may need a dosage adjustment or special tests during treatment.

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 medication. FDA pregnancy category D. This medication can cause harm to an unborn baby. Do not use tamoxifen without your doctor's consent if you are pregnant. Tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment. Use a non-hormonal of birth control (such as a condom or a diaphragm and spermicide) while you are using this medication and for 2 months after your treatment ends. It is not known whether tamoxifen passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. This medication may also slow breast milk production. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How should I take Nolvadex (tamoxifen)?

Take this medication exactly as it was prescribed for you. Do not take the medication in larger amounts, or take it for longer than recommended by your doctor. Follow the directions on your prescription label.

Take this medication with a full glass (8 ounces) of water.

Tamoxifen can be taken with or without food.

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.

It is important to 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.

To be sure this medication is not causing harmful effects, your doctor may want you to have mammograms and to perform routine breast self exams on a regular basis. Your liver function may also need to be tested. Do not miss any scheduled visits to your doctor.

Store tamoxifen at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take the medicine at the next regularly scheduled time. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine.

An overdose of tamoxifen is not expected to produce life-threatening symptoms.

What should I avoid while taking Nolvadex (tamoxifen)?

There are no restrictions on food, beverages, or activity while using tamoxifen unless your doctor has told you otherwise.

Nolvadex (tamoxifen) side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop using tamoxifen and call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body;

  • sudden headache, confusion, problems with vision, speech, or balance;

  • chest pain, shortness of breath, or coughing up blood;

  • pain or swelling in one or both legs;

  • unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge;

  • irregular menstrual periods;

  • pain or pressure in your pelvic area;

  • fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms;

  • pale skin, easy bruising or bleeding;

  • new breast lumps; or

  • nausea, stomach pain, low fever, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Continue using tamoxifen and talk with your doctor if you have any of these less serious side effects:

  • hot flashes, warmth or tingly feeling under your skin;

  • bone, joint, or tumor pain;

  • redness or skin changes;

  • swelling in your hands or feet;

  • vaginal itching or dryness;

  • depressed mood, weakness;

  • weight loss;

  • nausea;

  • cough, sore throat;

  • decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm;

  • headache, dizziness; or

  • thinning hair.

Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome.

What other drugs will affect Nolvadex (tamoxifen)?

Before taking tamoxifen, tell your doctor if you are taking

  • letrozole (Femara);

  • rifampin (Rifadin, Rifater, Rifamate, Rimactane);

  • aminoglutethimide (Cytadren);

  • bromocriptine (Parlodel);

  • anastrozole (Arimidex); or

  • a blood thinner (warfarin, Coumadin).

If you are using any of these drugs, you may not be able to use tamoxifen, or you may need dosage adjustments or special tests during treatment.

There may be other drugs not listed that can affect tamoxifen. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your pharmacist has information about tamoxifen written for health professionals that you may read.

What does my medication look like?

Tamoxifen is available with a prescription under the brand name Nolvadex. Other brand or generic formulations may also be available. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about this medication, especially if it is new to you.

  • Nolvadex 10 mg--round, biconvex, white, uncoated tablets

  • Nolvadex 20 mg--round, biconvex, white, uncoated tablets

  • Soltamax 10 mg/5ml oral solution

  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Copyright 1996-2006 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 5.01. Revision Date: 9/15/06 9:25:25 AM.

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