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Nolvadex

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Nolvadex

PATIENT INFORMATION

MEDICATION GUIDE

NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) ®
(NOLE-vah-dex) Tablets
Generic name: tamoxifen
(ta-MOX-I-fen)

Written for women who use NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) to lower their high chance of getting breast cancer or who have ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)

This Medication Guide discusses only the use of NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) to lower the chance of getting breast cancer in high-risk women and in women treated for DCIS.

People taking NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) to treat breast cancer have different benefits and different decisions to make than high-risk women or women with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) taking NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) to reduce the chance of getting breast cancer. If you already have breast cancer, talk with your doctor about how the benefits of treating breast cancer with NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) compare to the risks that are described in this document.

Why should I read this Medication Guide?

This guide has information to help you decide whether to use NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) to lower your chance of getting breast cancer.

You and your doctor should talk about whether the possible benefit of NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) in lowering your high chance of getting breast cancer is greater than its possible risks. Your doctor has a special computer program or hand-held calculator to tell if you are in the high-risk group. If you have DCIS and have been treated with surgery and radiation therapy, your doctor may prescribe NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) to decrease your chance of getting invasive (spreading) breast cancer.

Read this guide carefully before you start NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) . It is important to read the information you get each time you get more medicine. There may be something new. This guide does not tell you everything about NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) and does not take the place of talking with your doctor.

Only you and your doctor can determine if NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) is right for you.

What is the most important information I should know about using NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) to reduce the chance of getting breast cancer?

NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) is a prescription medicine that is like estrogen (female hormone) in some ways and different in other ways. In the breast, NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) can block estrogen's effects. Because it does this, NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) may block the growth of breast cancers that need estrogen to grow (cancers that are estrogen- or progesterone-receptor positive).

NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) can lower the chance of getting breast cancer in women with a higher than normal chance of getting breast cancer in the next five years (high-risk women) and women with DCIS.

Because high-risk women don't have cancer yet, it is important to think carefully about whether the possible benefit of NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) in lowering the chance of getting breast cancer is greater than its possible risks.

This Medication Guide reviews the risks and benefits of using NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) to reduce the chance of getting breast cancer in high-risk women and women with DCIS. This guide does not discuss the special benefits and decisions for people who already have breast cancer.

Why do women and men use NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) ?

NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) has more than one use. NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) is used:

to lower the chance of getting breast cancer in women with a higher than normal chance of getting breast cancer in the next 5 years (high-risk women)

to lower the chance of getting invasive (spreading) breast cancer in women who had surgery and radiation for ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). DCIS means the cancer is only inside the milk ducts.

to treat breast cancer in women after they have finished early treatment. Early treatment can include surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) may keep the cancer from spreading to others parts of the body. It may also reduce the woman's chance of getting a new breast cancer. in women and men,

to treat breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body (metastatic breast cancer).

This guide talks only about using NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) to lower the chance of getting breast cancer (#1 and #2 above).

What are the benefits of NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) to lower the chance of getting breast cancer in high-risk women and in women treated for DCIS?

A large US study looked at high-risk women and compared the ones who took NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) for 5 years with others who took a pill without NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) (placebo). High-risk women were defined as women who have a 1.7% or greater chance of getting breast cancer in the next 5 years, based on a special computer program. In this study:

  • Out of every 1,000 high-risk women who took a placebo, each year about 7 got breast cancer.
  • Out of every 1,000 high-risk women who took NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) , each year about 4 got breast cancer.

The study showed that on average, high-risk women who took NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) lowered their chances of getting breast cancer by 44%, from 7 in 1,000 to 4 in 1,000.

Another US study looked at women with DCIS and compared those who took NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) for 5 years with others who took a placebo. In this study:

  • Out of every 1,000 women with DCIS who took placebo, each year about 17 got breast cancer.
  • Out of every 1,000 women with DCIS who took NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) , each year about 10 got breast cancer.

The study showed that on average, women with DCIS who took NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) lowered their chances of getting invasive (spreading) breast cancer by 43%, from 17 in 1,000 to 10 in 1,000.

These studies do not mean that taking NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) will lower your personal chance of getting breast cancer. We do not know what the benefits will be for any one woman who takes NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) to reduce her chance of getting breast cancer.

What are the risks of NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) ?

In the studies described under “What are the benefits of NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) ?”, the high-risk women who took NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) got certain side effects at a higher rate than those who took a placebo.

Some of these side effects can cause death.

In one study, in women who still had their uterus

  • Out of every 1,000 women who took a placebo, each year 1 got endometrial cancer (cancer of the lining of the uterus) and none got uterine sarcoma (cancer of the body of the uterus).
  • Out of every 1,000 women who took NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) , each year 2 got endometrial cancer and fewer than 1 got uterine sarcoma.

These results show that, on average, in high-risk women who still had their uterus, NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) doubled the chance of getting endometrial cancer from 1 in 1,000 to 2 in 1,000, and it increased the chance of getting uterine sarcoma. This does not mean that taking NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) will double your personal chance of getting endometrial cancer or increase your chance of getting uterine sarcoma. We do not know what this risk will be for any one woman. The risk is different for women who no longer have their uterus.

For all women in this study, taking NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) increased the risk of having a blood clot in their lungs or veins, or of having a stroke. In some cases, women died from these effects.

NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) increased the risk of getting cataracts (clouding of the lens of the eye) or needing cataract surgery. (See “What are the possible side effects of NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) ?” for more details about side effects.)

What don't we know about taking NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) to reduce the chance of getting breast cancer?

We don't know

  • if NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) lowers the chance of getting breast cancer in women who have abnormal breast cancer genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2)
  • if taking NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) for 5 years reduces the number of breast cancers a woman will get in her lifetime or if it only delays some breast cancers
  • if NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) helps a woman live longer
  • the effects of taking NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) with hormone replacement therapy (HRT), birth control pills, or androgens (male hormones)
  • the benefits of taking NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) if you are less than 35 years old

Studies are being done to learn more about the long-term benefits and risks of using NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) to reduce the chance of getting breast cancer.

What are the possible side effects of NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) ?

The most common side effect of NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) is hot flashes. This is not a sign of a serious problem.

The next most common side effect is vaginal discharge. If the discharge is bloody, it could be a sign of a serious problem. [See “Changes in the lining (endometrium) or body of your uterus” below.]

Less common but serious side effects of NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) are listed below. These can occur at any time. Call your doctor right away if you have any signs of side effects listed below:

  • Changes in the lining (endometrium) or body of your uterus. These changes may mean serious problems are starting, including cancer of the uterus. The signs of changes in the uterus are:
    • Vaginal bleeding or bloody discharge that could be a rusty or brown color. You should call your doctor even if only a small amount of bleeding occurs.
    • Change in your monthly bleeding, such as in the amount or timing of bleeding or increased clotting.
    • Pain or pressure in your pelvis (below your belly button).
  • Blood clots in your veins or lungs. These can cause serious problems, including death. You may get clots up to 2-3 months after you stop taking NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) . The signs of blood clots are:
    • sudden chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing up blood
    • pain, tenderness, or swelling in one or both of your legs
  • Stroke. Stroke can cause serious medical problems, including death. The signs of stroke are:
    • sudden weakness, tingling, or numbness in your face, arm or leg, especially on one side of your body
    • sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
    • sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
    • sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
    • sudden severe headache with no known cause
  • Cataracts or increased chance of needing cataract surgery. The sign of these problems is slow blurring of your vision.
  • Liver problems, including jaundice. The signs of liver problems include lack of appetite and yellowing of your skin or whites of your eyes.

These are not all the possible side effects of NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) . For a complete list, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Who should not take NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) ?

Do not take NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) for any reason if you

  • Are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while taking NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) or during the 2 months after you stop taking NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) . NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) may harm your unborn baby. It takes about 2 months to clear NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) from your body. To be sure you are not pregnant, you can start taking NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) while you are having your menstrual period. Or, you can take a pregnancy test to be sure you are not pregnant before you begin.
  • Are breast feeding. We do not know if NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) can pass through your milk and harm your baby.
  • Have had an allergic reaction to NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) or tamoxifen (the other name for NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) ), or to any of its inactive ingredients.

If you get pregnant while taking NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) , stop taking it right away and contact your doctor. NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) may harm your unborn baby. Do not take NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) to lower your chance of getting breast cancer if

  • You ever had a blood clot that needed medical treatment.
  • You are taking medicines to thin your blood, like warfarin, (also called Coumadin®*).
  • Your ability to move around is limited for most of your waking hours.
  • You are at risk for blood clots. Your doctor can tell you if you are at high risk for blood clots.
  • You do not have a higher than normal chance of getting breast cancer. Your doctor can tell you if you are a high-risk woman.

How should I take NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) ?

  • Swallow the tablet(s) whole, with water or another non-alcoholic liquid. You can take NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) with or without food. Take your medicine every day. It may be easier to remember if you take it at the same time each day.
  • If you forget a dose, take it when you remember, then take the next dose as usual. If it is almost time for your next dose or you remember at your next dose, do not take extra tablets to make up the missed dose.
  • Take NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) for 5 years, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.

What should I avoid while taking NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) ?

  • Do not become pregnant while taking NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) or for 2 months after you stop. NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) can stop hormonal birth control methods from working. Hormonal methods include birth control pills, patches, injections, rings and implants. Therefore, while taking NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) , use birth control methods that don't use hormones, such as condoms, diaphragms with spermicide, or plain IUD's. If you get pregnant, stop taking NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) right away and call your doctor.
  • Do not breast feed. We do not know if NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) can pass through your milk and if it can harm the baby.

What should I do while taking NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) ?

  • Have regular gynecology check-ups (“female exams”), breast exams and mammograms. Your doctor will tell you how often. These will check for signs of breast cancer and cancer of the endometrium (lining of the uterus). Because NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) does not prevent all breast cancers, and you may get other types of cancers, you need these exams to find any cancers as early as possible.
  • Because NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) can cause serious side effects, pay close attention to your body. Signs you should look for are listed in “What are the possible side effects of NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) ?”
  • Tell all of the doctors that you see that you are taking NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) .
  • Tell your doctor right away if you have any new breast lumps.

General information about the safe and effective use of NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate)

Medicines are sometimes prescribed for purposes other than those listed in a Medication Guide. Your doctor has prescribed NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) only for you. Do not give it to other people, even if they have a similar condition, because it may harm them. Do not use it for a condition for which it was not prescribed.

This Medication Guide is a summary of information about NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) for women who use NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) to lower their high chance of getting breast cancer or who have DCIS. If you want more information about NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) , ask your doctor or pharmacist. They can give you information about NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) that is written for health professionals. For more information about NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) or breast cancer, please visit www.NOLVADEX (tamoxifen citrate) .com or call 1-800-236-9933.

Ingredients: tamoxifen citrate, carboxymethylcellulose calcium, magnesium stearate, mannitol and starch.

This Medication Guide has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration

Last reviewed on RxList: 4/10/2008
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

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