Meet Dr. Donnica Video Introduction TV Appearances

Diseases & Conditions Today on DrDonnica.com Clinical Trials Decisionnaires FAQs Top Tips Fast Facts Debunking Myths News Alerts Celebrity Speak Out Guest Experts Women's Health Champions Books Women's Health Resources

Mission Privacy Policy Sponsors Press Room What's New? Contact Us

This website is accredited by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. We comply with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.


Hope Award

Send to a Friend


Q: What is tamoxifen?

Dr. Donnica:
Tamoxifen citrate (name brand "Nolvadex"; Zeneca Pharmaceuticals) is a medicine in the selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) class.  Its primary action in the breast is as an "anti-estrogen".  In other parts of the body, however, its actions mimic those of estrogen (e.g. lowering LDL cholesterol and slowing bone loss).  Used to treat breast cancer, it was approved by the FDA in 10/98 to prevent breast cancer in women at high risk. 

The FDA approval was based largely upon the results of the Breast Cancer Prevention Trial (BCPT) conducted by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) from 1992-1997.  This double blind placebo-controlled study of 13,000 healthy women at high risk for breast cancer, showed that tamoxifen reduced breast cancer risk by 44%.  In fact, the data were so impressive, that the trial was actually stopped 14 months early so that the women on placebo could be offered the opportunity to benefit from tamoxifen treatment as well.

Tamoxifen is also used to treat melanoma and ovarian cancer.  For prevention of breast cancer, it is usually given twice daily and may cost approximately $100 a month.

As with all medications, tamoxifen's benefits do not come without risks. Like estrogen, tamoxifen increases the risk of endometrial cancer and blood clots.  Unlike estrogen, tamoxifen may increase menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes. Because of the associated risks, the FDA recommends that tamoxifen should only be prescribed for women at high risk for breast cancer.

Created: 11/16/2000  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

All the content contained herein is copyrighted pursuant to federal law. Duplication or use without
the express written permission of DrDonnica.com subjects the violator to both civil & criminal penalties.
Copyright © 2006 DrDonnica.com. All rights reserved.

Home | Today on DrDonnica.com | Meet Dr. Donnica | TV Appearances | Clinical Trials
Diseases & Conditions | Decisionnaires | Celebrity Speak Out | Guest Experts | Women's Health Champions
FAQs | Women’s Health Resources | Archive | Books & Tapes | Site Certification | Advanced Search
Mission | What’s New? | Press Room | Privacy Policy | Sponsors | Partners | Contact Us