Tamoxifen – yes or no?

I’ve just had a call from someone who is wondering whether to take Tamoxifen or not.  I’m sure this is a question many people ask themselves, especially as being on Tamoxifen is a long-term commitment – 5-10 years.  Not as long as some people, who have to take any number of drugs through their whole lifetime.

Tamoxifen is prescribed as hormone therapy for those who’ve had oestrogen positive cancer to reduce the risk of the cancer returning.

There are tales of the terrible side effects of this drug.  Many people come off it after a couple of years as they can’t cope with the side effects.  I don’t advise reading the side effects warnings on the leaflets and assuming you’ll get them all – you’d never end up taking any drugs if we did this and then where would the pharmaceutical companies be …

I’ve been on Tamoxifen for about 8 months so far.  I have a few niggles and potential side effects but those might be as much due to the other treatments I had as the drug itself.  Yes, I get hot flushes, I don’t sleep brilliantly and my bones ache but that started when I was having chemo and after surgery.  I’ve found that if I take my tablet in the morning I’m less likely to get achey bones or fidgitty legs in the evening or at night.

It’s a personal thing.  Everyone will react differently and you may or may not experience one or more of the more common side effects but until you start taking it you won’t know.  There are things you can do to help your body – like adjusting your diet or taking supplements.  I’ve also read that different varieties of Tamoxifen may have different side effects, so if you do have a bad experience you might find switching to a different version might help (ask your doctor or oncologist).

Ultimately the decision is up to you.  Depending on your age, the increased risk of not taking it may be something you’re not too concerned about.

Long term effects of Tamoxifen – The Guardian

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