Breast Cancer Home > What Is Tamoxifen Used For?

What is tamoxifen used for? The drug is typically used to treat and prevent breast cancer, including metastatic breast cancer, ductal carcinoma in situ, and node-positive breast cancer. It also may be given to girls between the ages of 2 and 10 for the treatment of McCune-Albright syndrome. Tamoxifen is used for other off-label reasons, too, such as the treatment of brain or ovarian cancer and infertility.

What Is Tamoxifen Used For? -- An Overview

Tamoxifen citrate (Nolvadex®) is a prescription medication used to treat and prevent breast cancer. Specifically, the following tamoxifen uses have been approved:
  • Treatment of metastatic breast cancer (cancer that has spread beyond the breasts) in men and women
  • Treatment of node-positive breast cancer (breast cancer that involves the lymph nodes) in postmenopausal women who have undergone breast cancer surgery or radiation
  • Treatment of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), which is early cancer of the ducts of the breasts that has not yet spread to the rest of the breast, in women who have undergone breast cancer surgery or radiation to reduce the risk of invasive breast cancer
  • Breast cancer prevention in women who are at high risk for the disease.

Understanding Breast Cancer

Women in the United States get breast cancer more than any other type of cancer, except for skin cancer. Each year, more than 211,000 American women learn that they have the disease. Most breast cancer causes are unknown. In 5 to 10 percent of these cases, there is a hereditary component. Common symptoms of breast cancer include:
  • A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area
  • A change in how the breast or nipple feels
  • Nipple tenderness
  • A change in how the breast or nipple looks
  • A change in the size or shape of the breast
  • A nipple turned inward into the breast
  • Nipple discharge (fluid).
In general, breast cancer treatment options can include:
The treatment that is best for a particular person will depend on the stage of the breast cancer (see Breast Cancer Treatment by Stage).
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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