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Tamoxifen

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

Tamoxifen lowers the risk of early breast cancer coming back (recurring) after surgery or developing in the other breast. It can also control advanced breast cancer for some time.

The liquid version of tamoxifen is called Saltamox.

How you have tamoxifen

You have tamoxifen as tablets.

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.

If you accidentally take more tamoxifen than you should, let your doctor or nurse know straight away.

If you forget to take a dose, take the dose as soon as you remember, unless it is nearly time for your next dose. Don't take a double dose to make up for a forgotten dose.

When you have tamoxifen

You take it daily at the same time every day. Most people have tamoxifen 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.

You may also have eye tests and tests to check your womb lining.

Side effects

Important information

Other medicines, food 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.

Pregnancy and contraception

This drug may harm a baby developing in the womb. It is important not to become pregnant or father a child while you are having treatment with this drug and for at least 2 months afterwards.

Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception before starting treatment.

Breastfeeding

Don’t breastfeed during this treatment because the drug may come through in your breast milk.

Alcohol

The liquid form of tamoxifen (Saltamox) contains a very small amount of alcohol. This is not harmful to most people but may be a problem if you have alcoholism.

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.

Immunisation

Don’t have immunisations with live vaccines while you’re having treatment and for at least 6 months afterwards.

In the UK, live vaccines include rubella, mumps, measles, BCG, yellow fever and Zostavax (shingles vaccine).

You can:

  • have other vaccines, but they might not give you as much protection as usual
  • have the flu vaccine
  • be in contact with other people who've had live vaccines as injections

Avoid contact with people who’ve had live vaccines taken by mouth (oral vaccines). This includes the rotavirus vaccine given to babies. The virus is in the baby’s urine for up to 2 weeks and can make you ill. So, you mustn't change their nappies for 2 weeks after their vaccination.

You also need to avoid anyone who has had oral polio or typhoid vaccination recently.

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.

Information and help

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