Breast cancer is affecting more women these days and the surge is mostly due to faulty lifestyle habits and also genetic predisposition. Whether it is due to genetic predisposition or due to lifestyle, much can be done to prevent and treat the disease if diagnosed in the early stages itself.
Tamoxifen is a common oral drug that is widely used for the treatment of breast cancer and also in prevention of breast cancer in women who fall under the high risk category. The drug is approved by FDA in treating not just breast cancer, but also other forms of cancers in both women as well as men.
How Does Tamoxifen Work?
Tamoxifen is effective only when the breast cancer is hormone sensitive, i.e. when the breast cancer thrives under estrogen hormone. This type of cancer is therefore also known as estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. The estrogen hormone that is found in the body of such patients will be used by the tumour cells to stick to the proteins in the body and multiply.
In such cases, Tamoxifen can be used for blocking the estrogen from binding with the proteins. Tamoxifen must therefore be administered only after checking whether the breast cancer is hormone sensitive. The drug has been in use for over thirty years and has been known to give good results if administered adequately.
How Tamoxifen Is Used For Breast Cancer Treatment
It has been found that Tamoxifen gives the best results when it is given to pre menopausal women. Tamoxifen is not recommended as an alternative treatment method as it may not give complete results.
It must be tried after other regular treatments methods have failed to give desired results. It is also imperative that the drug must be used individually and not along with other treatments. All other treatments must be stopped before giving Tamoxifen.
The tablet or its liquefied form can be taken once a day. For early stage breast cancer treatment Tamoxifen can be used and must be continued for about 5 years. This will reduce the risk of breast cancer in the other breast by half and recurrence by about 30 to 50 percent.
The drug is normally administered after all conventional treatment methods like surgery, radiation treatment and chemotherapy. For prevention of breast cancer, Tamoxifen can be used as early as 35 years of age. However, the drug can cause serious anomalies in the foetus and hence pregnancy must be completely avoided while taking the drug.
Who Must Not Take Tamoxifen
Tamoxifen has several side effects like blood clots, symptoms of menopause, strokes, uterine cancer, loss of memory, vaginal discharge, cataract etc. Therefore, women who are in the high risk category for uterine cancer and heart diseases must avoid this treatment method. Women who are pregnant too must stay away from Tamoxifen for the health of the baby.
Women must make sure that they discuss all health problems with the doctor before going for treatment with Tamoxifen. Generally, the benefits of the drug far outweigh the risks associated with it and in most cases, doctors would assess your health history and provide adequate advice.