How Does Tamoxifen Work?

Tamoxifen citrate (Nolvadex®) is a medication used to treat or prevent breast cancer. It belongs to a class of drugs called selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs). But how does tamoxifen work?
 
Tamoxifen works by binding to estrogen receptors in the breast. Many breast cancers are sensitive to the estrogen hormone, meaning that the tumor grows with the help of estrogen. When a tumor is sensitive to estrogen, it has receptors on the outer surface of its cells. Estrogen fits into these receptors like a key opening a lock. When this connection is made, the cancer grows.
 
By binding to the estrogen receptors in the breast, tamoxifen prevents estrogen from binding and decreases the effects of estrogen. As a result, the drug can help decrease the growth of these breast cancers.
 
(For more information on how this medicine works, click Tamoxifen. This article provides a complete overview of the drug, including information on its uses, general precautions, and potential side effects.)
 
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