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Tamoxifen: Drug Information

Tamoxifen is a medication most commonly prescribed for treating breast cancer both in women and men. Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in females, affecting one in eight (about 12%) women in the United States. Tamoxifen is effective at treating several types of breast cancer. Thus, generic Tamoxifen can be used to treat:

  • Invasive metastatic breast cancer in men and women (the most common type).
  • Ductal carcinoma in situ (non-invasive type of cancer characterized by presence of abnormal cells in the milk ducts) in women after they have undergone surgery and/or radiation treatment.
Treatment of breast cancer with Tamoxifen is called hormonal therapy.

Women who have risk factors for invasive breast cancer are often recommended to use Tamoxifen to prevent cancer. Breast cancer risk factors include aging, obesity, exposure to radiation, a family or personal history of breast cancer, and certain reproductive factors.

Off-label uses of Tamoxifen include the treatment of McCune-Albright syndrome, the treatment of certain other cancers, and stimulating ovulation in infertile women.

Treatment of breast cancer with Tamoxifen is called hormonal therapy.

Women who have risk factors for invasive breast cancer are often recommended use Tamoxifen to prevent cancer. Breast cancer risk factors include aging, obesity, exposure to radiation, a family or personal history of breast cancer, and certain reproductive factors. Off-label uses of Tamoxifen include the treatment of McCune-Albright syndrome, the treatment of certain other cancers, and stimulating ovulation in infertile women.

Drug Effectiveness

Tamoxifen is effective at treatment of different types of breast cancer in women. Additionally, Tamoxifen is the most commonly prescribed hormonal treatment for breast cancer in men.

When it comes to preventing breast cancer, Tamoxifen is usually the drug of choice. Other studies have shown that Tamoxifen prevents invasive breast cancer in about 50% of the women who have had ductal carcinoma in situ.

How is Tamoxifen supplied?

Tamoxifen comes in tablet form. Tamoxifen tablets are available in a number of strengths, including: Tamoxifen 10 mg and 20 mg.

Mechanism of Action

Many types of breast cancer grow with the help of female hormone estrogen. Active component is tamoxifen, which works as an anti-estrogen and blocks the effect of this hormone in breast cells. At the same time Tamoxifen has estrogenic effect on bones, thereby strengthening them. By decreasing the effects of estrogen in breast, the drug decreases the growth of cancer. However, the exact way that Tamoxifen works against breast cancer is not known.

Dosing and Administration
  • The recommended initial dose of Tamoxifen for preventing breast cancer in high-risk women is Tamoxifen 20 mg taken once daily or Tamoxifen 10 mg taken twice a day.
  • When used for the prevention of invasive cancer in women with ductal carcinoma in situ, the recommended Tamoxifen dosage is 20 mg daily taken as a single dose or as two smaller doses.
  • When used for treating different types of breast cancer, the dosage may range from Tamoxifen 20 mg to 40 mg. 40 mg-dosage should be divided into two smaller doses.

Hormonal therapy with Tamoxifen may last up to five years.

When used to reduce the risk of breast cancer, the first dose of Tamoxifen should be taken during a menstrual period.