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Find out what raloxifene is, how you have it and other important information about taking raloxifene for breast cancer.

What it is

Raloxifene is a type of drug called a selective oestrogen receptor modulator (SERM). It acts like the female sex hormone oestrogen although it isn't a hormone.

How it works

Many breast cancers are stimulated to grow by the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. These breast cancers are called hormone sensitive or hormone receptor positive cancers.

Oestrogen locks on to a protein called the oestrogen receptor in the breast cancer cell. This stimulates the cell to divide and grow. Raloxifene binds to the receptor and stops the oestrogen from making the cell divide.

Why you have it

Reseach shows that raloxifene can lower the risk of breast cancer in women who are at a high or moderate risk of developing it. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends raloxifene as an option to reduce the risk of women who are at a moderate or high risk and have been through the menopause. It isn't suitable for women who have had their womb removed (a hysterectomy).

Raloxifene is also a way to prevent and treat bone thinning (osteoperosis) in women who have had their menopuase. Oestrogen helps keep the bones strong. After the menopuase women have less oestrogen in their body and some develop osteoperosis. 

How you have it

Raloxifene is a tablet you take once a day. 

Taking your tablets or capsules

You must take tablets and capsules according to the instructions your doctor or pharmacist gives you.

Whether you have a full or empty stomach can affect how much of a drug gets into your bloodstream.

You should take the right dose, not more or less.

Never stop taking a cancer drug without talking to your specialist first.

When you have it

You can choose the best time to take it but you need to take it at about the same time every day. You may take it with or without food. If you are taking it to reduce the risk of breast cancer you take it for 5 years.

Tests during treatment

You have blood tests before starting treatment and during your treatment. They check your levels of blood cells and other substances in the blood. They also check how well your liver and kidneys are working.

Side effects

Important information

Other medicines, foods and drink

Cancer drugs can interact with some other medicines and herbal products. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about any medicines you are taking. This includes vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter remedies.

Treatment for other conditions

Always tell other doctors, nurses or dentists that you’re having this treatment if you need treatment for anything else, including teeth problems.

More information about this treatment

For further information about this treatment go to the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) website.

You can report any side effect you have to the Medicines Health and Regulatory Authority (MHRA) as part of their Yellow Card Scheme.

Last reviewed: 
06 Feb 2014
  • EMC 

    Accessed June 2013

  • Selective oestrogen receptor modulators in prevention of breast cancer: an updated meta-analysis of individual participant data J Cuzick and others. Lancet, May 2013

  • Raloxifene: a review of its use in the prevention of invasive breast cancer. M.D Moen and G.M Keating, Drugs 68 (14) 2008

Information and help

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