Breast Cancer Hormone Treatment

Tamoxifen as a Breast Cancer Treatment

Tamoxifen has been used for nearly 20 years to treat patients with advanced breast cancer. Now it is being used also as an additional treatment for early-stage breast cancer after any tumors have been removed by surgery. Clinical trials show that taking tamoxifen as part of the treatment for breast cancer helps to reduce the chances of recurrence in the treated breast and of new cancer developing in the other breast.
 
Tamoxifen is taken daily by mouth as a pill. Your oncologist will decide on the dose and length of treatment according to current research findings.
 
Like chemotherapy for breast cancer, hormone therapy affects cells throughout your body. Studies have shown that there is some increased risk for cancer of the uterus. Blood clots also have been reported in the veins of a small percentage of patients who take tamoxifen along with chemotherapy. These risks, however, do not outweigh the benefits received from tamoxifen.
 
Of course, you will have frequent blood tests and physical exams while you are on hormone treatment for breast cancer. Be sure your gynecologist and primary care doctor know you are taking this drug. You should have yearly pelvic exams while taking tamoxifen, and you should notify your doctor about any unusual bleeding or pain.
 

What Are the Side Effects?

Side effects from hormone treatment could include:
 
  • Hot flashes
  • Nausea
  • Vaginal spotting (small amounts of blood)
  • Increased fertility in younger women.
     
Less common side effects of hormone treatment for breast cancer include:
 
  • Depression
  • Vaginal itching, bleeding, or discharge
  • Loss of appetite
  • Eye problems
  • Headache
  • Weight gain.

 

(Click Adjuvant Therapy for Breast Cancer to learn more about the purpose of adjuvant therapy and other types of adjuvant breast cancer treatment besides hormone therapy.)
The Top 17 Side Effects of Chemotherapy

Breast Cancer Treatments

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