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Tamoxifen (By mouth)

Treats breast cancer. May prevent breast cancer in women who have a high risk.

What works?

Learn more about the effects of these drugs. The most reliable research is summed up for you in our featured article.

Tamoxifen is a medicine that blocks the effects of the estrogen hormone in the body. It is used to treat breast cancer in women or men. It may also be used to treat other kinds of cancer, as determined by your doctor. Tamoxifen also may be used to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer in women who have a high risk of developing breast cancer. Women at high risk for developing breast cancer… Read more
Brand names include
Nolvadex, Soltamox
Drug classes About this
Antiestrogen

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Tamoxifen or letrozole versus standard methods for women with breast cancer who freeze egg cells or embryos

Breast cancer treatment can cause infertility. Freezing egg cells (oocytes) or embryos before treatment can increase the chances of future motherhood. Hormonal treatment is required before freezing of oocytes or embryos. In cases of hormone‐sensitive breast cancer, this hormonal treatment can theoretically be harmful. Therefore, these women may receive tamoxifen or letrozole in addition to standard hormonal treatment. Cochrane review authors examined the evidence about tamoxifen or letrozole versus standard methods for women with estrogen‐receptor positive breast cancer undergoing freezing of oocytes or embryos in assisted reproduction.

No evidence to suggest tamoxifen benefits patients with relapsed ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer often spreads before symptoms show. Cytotoxic drugs are often only partly effective and cause severe side‐effects. The main aims of treatment for relapsed disease are symptom control and prolongation of life. No data from RCTs or non‐RCTs were found, so there was no evidence that tamoxifen was effective and safe as a treatment for relapsed ovarian cancer. Laboratory studies suggest tamoxifen may be effective as a treatment for women with ovarian cancer. Although, uncontrolled non‐comparative trials on patients with relapsed ovarian cancer showed tamoxifen may shrink or stabilise tumours in a small number, there is a strong need for an RCT or good quality non‐randomised comparative studies to determine the effectiveness and safety of tamoxifen in terms of overall survival, tumour response, symptom control, quality of life and adverse events.

Tamoxifen does not improve survival in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma

Hepatocellular carcinoma (primary liver cancer) is a common cause of death from cancer world‐wide. It is usually fatal in patients who cannot be treated with surgery or other local treatments. Tamoxifen is an anti‐oestrogen drug, which has been tested in advanced hepatocellular carcinoma. The reviewers identified 10 trials assessing the effect of tamoxifen on survival, quality of life, tumour size, and treatment side effects in advanced hepatocellular carcinoma. Tamoxifen had no significant effect on survival or tumour size. Tamoxifen did not improve quality of life.

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Summaries for consumers

Tamoxifen or letrozole versus standard methods for women with breast cancer who freeze egg cells or embryos

Breast cancer treatment can cause infertility. Freezing egg cells (oocytes) or embryos before treatment can increase the chances of future motherhood. Hormonal treatment is required before freezing of oocytes or embryos. In cases of hormone‐sensitive breast cancer, this hormonal treatment can theoretically be harmful. Therefore, these women may receive tamoxifen or letrozole in addition to standard hormonal treatment. Cochrane review authors examined the evidence about tamoxifen or letrozole versus standard methods for women with estrogen‐receptor positive breast cancer undergoing freezing of oocytes or embryos in assisted reproduction.

No evidence to suggest tamoxifen benefits patients with relapsed ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer often spreads before symptoms show. Cytotoxic drugs are often only partly effective and cause severe side‐effects. The main aims of treatment for relapsed disease are symptom control and prolongation of life. No data from RCTs or non‐RCTs were found, so there was no evidence that tamoxifen was effective and safe as a treatment for relapsed ovarian cancer. Laboratory studies suggest tamoxifen may be effective as a treatment for women with ovarian cancer. Although, uncontrolled non‐comparative trials on patients with relapsed ovarian cancer showed tamoxifen may shrink or stabilise tumours in a small number, there is a strong need for an RCT or good quality non‐randomised comparative studies to determine the effectiveness and safety of tamoxifen in terms of overall survival, tumour response, symptom control, quality of life and adverse events.

Tamoxifen does not improve survival in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma

Hepatocellular carcinoma (primary liver cancer) is a common cause of death from cancer world‐wide. It is usually fatal in patients who cannot be treated with surgery or other local treatments. Tamoxifen is an anti‐oestrogen drug, which has been tested in advanced hepatocellular carcinoma. The reviewers identified 10 trials assessing the effect of tamoxifen on survival, quality of life, tumour size, and treatment side effects in advanced hepatocellular carcinoma. Tamoxifen had no significant effect on survival or tumour size. Tamoxifen did not improve quality of life.

See all (49)

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