What is Nolvadex&Reg;?

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  • Written By: Marjorie McAtee
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2019
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Nolvadex®, the prescription drug tamoxifen, is an anti-estrogen drug used to treat breast cancer. Nolvadex® may be used to slow or stop the spread of metastasized breast cancer or early-stage breast cancer in women. It can also be used to prevent certain types of breast cancer in those with a high risk for the disease. It inhibits the activity of estrogen within the breast and can stop the growth of tumors that need estrogen to thrive. It is usually taken orally and, like many cancer treatment drugs, carries a number of risks and side effects.

Nolvadex® is most often used to stop the spread of breast cancer in women and men who are in the advanced stages of the disease. Nolvadex® can help prevent remission in women whose early-stage breast cancer has been treated with surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Women who have had ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), a non-spreading type of breast cancer that forms in a milk duct, are considered at high risk for more serious forms of breast cancer, and may take Nolvadex® to prevent these cancers. Women whose age, personal medical history or family medical history significantly raises their risk of breast cancers may take Nolvadex® to prevent the disease.


Nolvadex® is sometimes used to stimulate ovulation in women whose ovaries do not typically produce eggs. It can be used to treat McCune-Albright syndrome, a condition characterized by early sexual development, bone disease, and skin discoloration in children. Nolvadex® is taken as an oral tablet once or twice a day, with or without food.

Nolvadex® is not safe for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Women using Nolvadex® are generally advised to use two forms of non-hormonal birth control to prevent pregnancy while using Nolvadex. Nolvadex can cause uterine cancer, pulmonary blood clots, and strokes. Smokers, diabetics, and those with high blood pressure or high cholesterol may not be able to use Nolvadex®.

Those who take Nolvadex® should be aware of the possibility of drug reactions. Nolvadex® may potentially interact with a number of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, including aminoglutethimide, cyclophosphamide, medroxyprogesterone, rifampin, and phenobarbital. Those taking Nolvadex® are often advised to speak with a doctor about their use of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and supplements before taking Nolvadex®.

Common side effects of Nolvadex® include fatigue, stomach cramps, bone or tumor pain, dizziness, and depression. Serious side effects include jaundice, fever, loss of appetite, vision changes, and blisters. Those taking Nolvadex® are typically advised to continue breast cancer self-exams. Nolvadex users may still develop breast cancer tumors even while using the drug.


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