Tamoxifen is an antineoplastic or cancer-fighting drug. Tamoxifen is also classified as an anti-estrogen drug because it blocks estradiol at estrogen receptors. For this reason, tamoxifen is effective for the treatment of estrogen receptor positive tumors. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Tamoxifen treats metastatic breast cancer in women and men and is a treatment option for premenopausal women instead of removing, or irradiating the ovaries.
General undesirable effects
The NIH reports that adverse reactions to tamoxifen are rare and generally mild and do not result in discontinuation of treatment. Negative effects of tamoxifen affecting the body as a whole and occurring greater than 1 percent of the population tested include weight gain, photosensitivity, alopecia (hair loss), flushing, increased bone pain, shortness of breath, levels high serum calcium and occasional flare-ups disease. During the initiation of treatment, breast tumors can enlarge, become the tender and localized due to redness and swelling.
Side effects of the central nervous system
Headaches, lightheadedness, dizziness, mental confusion, feeling drowsy and depression can occur while taking tamoxifen.
Cardiovascular side effects
Patients taking tamoxifen have a potential risk of thrombosis (blood clots) in any part of the body, including the lung or the brain.
Gastrointestinal side effects
Tamoxifen can cause nausea and vomiting, an unpleasant taste in the mouth and decreased appetite.
Hematologic side effects
Tamoxifen may decrease the production of white blood cells and induce thrombocytopenia (low platelet count) making a patient who take tamoxifen more prone to bleeding and infection.
Dermatological side effects
Patients taking tamoxifen may experience dry skin or rash.
Side effects of special senses
Tamoxifen can cause retinopathy, blurred vision and decreased visual acuity. These symptoms should be reported to the attending physician.
Urogenital side effects
Tamoxifen will cause changes in the menstrual cycle in premenopausal women, as well as cause milk production and leaking from the breast, vaginal discharge and bleeding, vaginal dryness and risk of uterine malignancy.
NIH advises patients to seek immediate medical attention if they experience the following adverse reactions while taking tamoxifen, or after taking tamoxifen: new breast nodules, vaginal bleeding, changes in the menstrual cycle, changes in vaginal discharge, pelvic pain or pressure, swelling or tenderness in the calf, shortness of breath, sudden chest pain, coughing up blood or changes in vision.