Tamoxifen (Nolvadex)

Warning :If you believe you have taken an overdose of this medication, you should call emergency medical help, such as your nearest poison control station. You may experience some of these symptoms if you have overdosed: irregular heartbeat, shaking, fainting, and unsteadiness when walking.  


Tamoxifen may produce many serious side effects that you should be aware in case you experience any of them. It may cause allergic reactions, so if you experience any dizziness, trouble breathing, swelling, itching, or rashes, you should contact your doctor or other medical assistance. You should also seek emergency help immediately if you have a sudden vision change, confusion, slurred speech, weakness on one side of your body, or chest pain. These side effects can be caused by a stroke which may be very severe while taking this medication. 


While some side effects are more harmful than others, you should be aware of any changes in your body. If you are a woman, also be aware of any changes in your menstrual cycle or pain in your abdominal area. Always contact your doctor about side effects you experience during treatment.


Indications:  This medication is developed to treat cases of breast cancer in both female and male patients. If your cancer has spread to other parts of the body or if you have recently undergone surgery or radiation your physician may recommend Tamoxifen. This drug helps to slow or stop the growth of harmful cancer cells in the breast by targeting hormones.

Tamoxifen is sometimes prescribed to treat ovulation problems in women who want to get pregnant but are unable to produce eggs. In addition, the medication can be used in the treatment of McCune-Albright syndrome, a genetic disease that affects the bones and color (pigmentation) of the skin in children.

Dosage:  Tamoxifen comes as white coated tablet to be taken by mouth. This medication is typically taken orally, either by a pill or a liquid. Follow your doctor’s instructions exactly to take the accurate dose every day, and at the correct time of day. Each patient may have a different response to the drug and so your dose instructions may be unique to you.

Overdose:  Tamoxifen overdose can be fatal. The risk is even higher when the drug is overdosed for a long term. In fact, most chemotherapy drugs overdose, including Tamoxifen, can lead to death. Even in the absence of overdose, Tamoxifen can cause strokes, blood clots in the lungs, and cancer of the uterus. It is extremely important that you take Tamoxifen as indicated by your health care provider or according to the directions on the label.

Missing dose: do your best to take Tamoxifen around the same time every day.  In case you forget to take a dose, take the missed one as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for your next dose,  do not double the next dose to recover the missed one; it can be dangerous. Contact your doctor or wait to go back to your regular schedule. Misusing Tamoxifen can cause life threatening health problems.

Storage: keep Tamoxifen tightly closed in the container it came, out of the reach of children. Store it at room temperature (15-25 ° C), away from heat, light and moisture. Tamoxifen and all other drugs should not be used beyond the expiration date printed on the container.

Contraindications : If you are a woman who could become pregnant this medication should not be taken at the same time. For both men and women receiving this medicine, your doctor will give you two other forms of birth control that are non-hormonal. This drug can affect unborn babies and it is also not recommended while nursing.

During  the therapy, it is important that you keep all appointments with your doctor and laboratory for regular medical examinations, especially cardiologic and gynecologic exams. Regular checkups help your physician to detect early signs of cancer of the uterus or/and heart problems related to Tamoxifen.

Mechanism of action (MOA): Tamoxifen is an antiestrogen; it slows or stops the multiplication of cancer cells by blocking the hormonal effects of estrogen in the body.

Interactions : If your physician is recommending Tamoxifen for your medical condition then there is a good chance that you are already taking one or more medications. Your doctor will likely monitor all of your medications to make sure that they are safe to be taking simultaneously. Some medications when taken at the same time can interact with each other, causing harmful side effects and decreasing the positive effects of the drug.  Some drug interactions to watch for include any blood thinners, hormonal forms of birth controls such as “the pill”, estrogens, plus others. Tell your doctor of any and all other medications you are taking.


Side effects: The medication not The medication attacks both cancer cells and healthy cells, which often leads to adverse reactions in most patients. Common Tamoxifen side effects include:

  • hair loss
  • tumor pain
  • hot flashes
  • depression
  • weight loss
  • constipation

If the side effects above persist for weeks, contact your oncologist. In addition, contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms:  

  • yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • unusual bruising or bleeding
  • vision problems
  • decreased of appetite
  • mouth sores
  • fever
  • persistent thirst
  • muscle weakness
  • restlessness
  • Swelling of the eyes, face, lips, tongue, throat, hands, arms, feet, ankles, or lower legs.



1 – encyclopedia.com, document 1G1-63065744

2 – nlm.nih.gov, Tamoxifen

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