Tamoxifen (Nolvadex) is an orally active drug which is used in the treatment of breast cancer. Over the past 2 decades, it has been the only drug for the treatment of post menopausal women with breast cancer.
Today, Tamoxifen is used for the treatment of both early and advanced estrogen receptor positive (ER+) breast cancer in pre- and post-menopausal women. It has also been approved by the FDA for the prevention of breast cancer in women at high risk of developing the disease.
Besides breast cancer, Tamoxifen is also used to treat infertility in women with anovulatory (irregular cycles) disorders.
Over the past 2 decades, the drug has been administered to million of women all over the world. The drug has proven to be safe but it does have a few side effects which include:
- hot flashes
- vaginal discharge
- irregular menstrual cycles
- fatigue, nausea, vomiting
- vaginal dryness, itching
- decreased libido
Tamoxifen is also known to have some adverse effects on the skin which include:
- skin rash
- skin lesions with pustules
- swelling of the lips and face
- acne type lesions
Some of these skin lesions occur 6-12 months year after starting Tamoxifen. When the skin lesions do occur, it is important to see a physician and report all the adverse side effects. In many cases, no active treatment is required because the lesions do resolve once Tamoxifen is stopped.