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Generic Name:

tamoxifen, Oral tablet

All Brands

  • Nolvadex (Discontinued)
A discontinued drug is a drug that has been taken off the market due to safety issues, shortage of raw materials, or low market demand.
SECTION 1 of 5

Highlights for tamoxifen

Oral tablet
1

Tamoxifen is an oral medication used to treat and reduce the risk of breast cancer.

2

The standard dose is 20–40 mg per day.

3

You should contact your doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms: new breast lumps, vaginal bleeding or changes in your menstrual cycle, changes in your vaginal discharge, pelvic pain or pressure, swelling or tenderness in your calf, unexplained shortness of breath, sudden chest pain, coughing up blood, and changes in your vision.

These symptoms may mean you’re having a rare but serious side effect of developing cancer in your uterus.

4

Common side effects include reddening of your face (flushing) and vaginal discharge.

5

Tamoxifen can cause liver problems, including jaundice or cataracts or increase your chance of needing cataract surgery.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

FDA warning

This drug has a Black Box Warning. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A black box warning alerts doctors and patients to potentially dangerous effects.

Serious side effects warning. Tamoxifen can increase the risk of serious and life-threatening events, including uterine cancer, blood clots, and stroke. These events can be fatal. You should discuss the potential benefits and risks of this drug with your doctor.

Cataracts

Tamoxifen can increase the risk of getting cataracts or needing cataract surgery. Tell your doctor if you have blurred vision. This may mean that you have cataracts and you may need surgery. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of this drug.

Liver problems

This drug may increase your risk of liver problems, including jaundice. The signs of liver problems include loss of appetite and yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes. Tell your doctor if you have these symptoms. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of this drug.

Blood thinners

If you’re taking a blood thinner medication, tamoxifen can increase the amount of the drug in your body. This may make it easier for you to bleed. If you have ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) or a history of blood clots and you must take a blood thinner, you shouldn’t use tamoxifen.

What is tamoxifen?

Tamoxifen is a prescription drug. It comes in the form of an oral solution and an oral tablet.

The oral solution is only available as a brand-name drug called Soltamox. The oral tablet is only available as a generic drug. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand. Talk to your healthcare provider to see if the generic will work for you.

Why it's used

Tamoxifen is used to treat and reduce the risk of certain types of breast cancer.

How it works

Tamoxifen belongs to a group of medicines called antiestrogens.

More Details

How it works

Tamoxifen belongs to a group of medicines called antiestrogens. A class of drugs refers to medications that work similarly. They have a similar chemical structure and are often used to treat similar conditions.

Antiestrogens work by blocking the effects of the hormone estrogen in the body. Estrogen may cause the growth of some types of breast tumors. Tamoxifen may block the growth of tumors that respond to estrogen.

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SECTION 2 of 5

tamoxifen Side Effects

Oral tablet

More Common Side Effects

The most common side effects that occur with tamoxifen include:

  • reddening of your cheeks (flushing)

  • vaginal discharge

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious Side Effects

If you experience any of these serious side effects, call your doctor right away. If your symptoms are potentially life threatening, or if you think you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

  • changes in the lining (endometrium) of your uterus. These changes may mean serious problems are starting, including cancer of the uterus. Symptoms include:

    • vaginal bleeding or bloody discharge in a rusty or brown color. You should call your doctor even if a small amount of bleeding occurs.
    • changes in your menstrual cycle, such as in the amount or timing of bleeding or increased clotting
    • pain or pressure in your pelvis (below your belly button)
  • blood clots in your veins or lungs. These can occur for up to 2–3 months after you stop taking tamoxifen. Symptoms include:

    • sudden chest pain
    • shortness of breath
    • coughing up blood
    • pain, tenderness, or swelling in one or both of your legs
  • stroke. Symptoms include:

    • sudden weakness, tingling, or numbness in your face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of your body
    • sudden:
      • confusion
      • trouble speaking
      • trouble seeing in one or both eyes
      • trouble walking
      • dizziness
      • loss of balance or coordination
      • severe headache with no known cause
  • cataracts. Symptoms include:

    • blurred vision
  • liver problems, including jaundice. Symptoms include:

    • loss of appetite
    • yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes
Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

Tamoxifen doesn’t cause drowsiness.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
SECTION 3 of 5

tamoxifen May Interact with Other Medications

Oral tablet

Tamoxifen can interact with other medications, herbs, or vitamins you might be taking. That’s why your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. If you’re curious about how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Note: You can reduce your chances of drug interactions by having all of your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy. That way, a pharmacist can check for possible drug interactions.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Adrenal gland disorder drugs

Certain medicines for adrenal gland disorders decrease the amount of tamoxifen in your blood. You shouldn’t use these drugs together.

These drugs include:

  • aminoglutethimide

Blood thinners

Tamoxifen can increase the amount of the blood thinner in your body. This may make it easier for you to bleed. If you have ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) or want to reduce your risk of breast cancer and you must take a blood thinner, you shouldn’t use tamoxifen.

These drugs include:

  • warfarin

Bromocriptine

This drug increases the amount of tamoxifen in your blood. Your doctor may adjust the dose of tamoxifen.

Cancer-fighting drugs

Tamoxifen decreases the amount of certain cancer drugs in your blood. This means that they won’t work as well to fight cancer. These drugs shouldn’t be used together. These drugs also increase your risk of blood clots when used with tamoxifen.

These drugs include:

  • letrozole
  • anastrozole

Certain cancer-fighting drugs increase your risk of blood clots when used with tamoxifen.

These drugs include:

  • doxorubicin
  • daunorubicin
  • vincristine
  • vinblastine
  • cyclophosphamide
  • cisplatin

Seizure drugs

Some seizure drugs may lower the amount of tamoxifen in your blood. Your doctor may adjust your dose of tamoxifen.

These drugs include:

  • phenobarbital
  • fosphenytoin
  • phenytoin

Tuberculosis drugs

Certain tuberculosis drugs decrease the amount of tamoxifen in your blood. Your doctor may increase your tamoxifen dose.

These drugs include:

  • rifampin
  • rifabutin
  • rifapentine

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.
Tamoxifen warnings
changes in uterus
People with changes in the lining of the uterus

Tamoxifen can further increase your risk for changing the lining of the uterus. If you have a history of this condition, talk to your doctor before using this drug. Let your doctor know if you develop menstrual changes, abnormal vaginal bleeding, changes in vaginal discharge, or pelvic pain or pressure. Your doctor may adjust or have you stop taking tamoxifen.

history of blood clots
People with a history of blood clots

Tamoxifen can further increase your risk for blood clots. If you have a history of this condition, talk to your doctor before using this drug. If you develop leg pain or swelling, shortness of breath, cough, or chest pain, tell your doctor and go to the emergency room right away.

stroke
People with a history of stroke

Tamoxifen can further increase your risk for a stroke. If you have a history of this condition, talk to your doctor before using this drug.

eye problems
People with a history of eye problems

Tamoxifen can further increase your risk for eye problems, such as cataracts. If you have a history of vision problems, talk to your doctor before using this drug. Let your doctor know if you have any changes in vision. They may lower your dose or have you stop taking the drug.

liver problems
People with liver problems

Tamoxifen can further increase your risk for liver problems. If you have a history of this condition, talk to your doctor before using this drug. If you develop signs of liver damage, such as yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes, tell your doctor. They may adjust your dose.

pregnant women
Pregnant women

Tamoxifen is a category D pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Research in humans has shown adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. This drug should only be used during pregnancy in serious cases where it's needed to treat a dangerous condition in the mother.

Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Ask your doctor to tell you about the specific harm that may be done to the fetus. This drug should be only used if the potential risk to the fetus is acceptable given the drug’s potential benefit.

breastfeeding
Women who are breast-feeding

It isn’t known if tamoxifen passes into breast milk. If it does, it may cause side effects in a child who is breast-fed.

Talk to your doctor if you breast-feed your baby. You may need to decide whether to stop breast-feeding or stop taking this medication.

for seniors
For seniors

Older adults may process drugs more slowly. This can cause the drug to build up in your body, which may increase your risk of side effects.

for children
For children

This drug shouldn’t be used in people under the age of 18 years.

call doctor
When to call the doctor

Call your doctor if you feel any new lumps in your breasts.

allergies
Allergies

Tamoxifen can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms include:

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of your throat or tongue
  • hives

Call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room if you develop these symptoms.

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal (cause death).

SECTION 4 of 5

How to Take tamoxifen (Dosage)

Oral tablet

All possible dosages and forms may not be included here. Your dose, form, and how often you take it will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What are you taking this medication for?

Metastatic breast cancer

Brand: Soltamax

Form: Oral solution
Strengths: 10 mg/5 mL

Generic: tamoxifen

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 10 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)

Tablet: The recommended dose is 20–40 mg per day taken in one or divided doses for 5 years. If you take more than 20 mg per day, you should take half of your dose in the morning and half of your dose in the evening.

Oral solution: The recommended dose is 20–40 mg per day taken in one or divided doses for 5 years. If you take more than 20 mg per day, you should take half of your dose in the morning and half of your dose in the evening. A 20-mg dose of the solution is given as 10–20 mL (2–4 teaspoons) of the 10 mg/5 mL-tamoxifen bottle.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

A safe and effective dose in people under the age of 18 years hasn’t been determined.

Adjuvant treatment of breast cancer

Brand: Soltamax

Form: Oral solution
Strengths: 10 mg/5 mL

Generic: tamoxifen

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 10 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)

Tablet: The recommended dose is 20 mg taken once per day.

Oral solution: The recommended dose is 20 mg taken once per day for 5 years. A 20-mg dose of the solution is given as 10–20 mL (2–4 teaspoons) of the 10 mg/5 mL-tamoxifen bottle.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

A safe and effective dose in people under the age of 18 years hasn’t been determined.

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)

Brand: Soltamax

Form: Oral solution
Strengths: 10 mg/5 mL

Generic: tamoxifen

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 10 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)

Tablet: The recommended dose is 20 mg taken once per day.

Oral solution: The recommended dose is 20 mg taken once per day for 5 years. A 20-mg dose of the solution is given as 10–20 mL (2–4 teaspoons) of the 10 mg/5 mL-tamoxifen bottle.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

A safe and effective dose in people under the age of 18 years hasn’t been determined.

Reduction in breast cancer incidence in high-risk women

Brand: Soltamax

Form: Oral solution
Strengths: 10 mg/5 mL

Generic: tamoxifen

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 10 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)

Tablet: The recommended dose is 20 mg taken once per day.

Oral solution: The recommended dose is 20 mg taken once per day for 5 years. A 20-mg dose of the solution is given as 10–20 mL (2–4 teaspoons) of the 10 mg/5 mL-tamoxifen bottle.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

A safe and effective dose in people under the age of 18 years hasn’t been determined.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

Tamoxifen comes with serious risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If you don’t take it at all

Not taking tamoxifen could affect your treatment outcome. If there’s a reason that you don’t want to take your medicine, talk to your doctor.

If you take too much

Taking too much tamoxifen may cause the following symptoms:

  • shaky hands
  • dizziness
  • unsteady walk
  • changes in heart rhythm (QT prolongation)

What to do if you miss a dose

If you forget to take your dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it’s just a few hours before the time for your next dose, take only one dose at that time.

Never try to catch up by taking two doses at once. This could result in toxic side effects.

How to tell if the drug is working

Breast cancer treatment: Your doctor will do blood tests and imaging studies periodically to check the progress of your cancer treatment. Your doctor will tell you if the drug is working to treat your cancer.

Cancer prevention: Since you’re taking tamoxifen to prevent cancer, your doctor may do tests and exams to check for cancer.

Tamoxifen is used for long-term treatment.

It has shown to be most effective if it’s used for 5 years.

Important considerations for taking tamoxifen
take with or without food
You can take your tamoxifen with or without food
can crush or cut
You can cut or crush the tablet
storage
Store tamoxifen at room temperature
See Details
refillable
Prescription is refillable
travel
Travel
See Details
clinical monitoring
Clinical monitoring
See Details

Store tamoxifen at room temperature

Keep it from 68–77°F (20–25°C). You can use the oral solution for up to 3 months after opening it.

Don’t freeze tamoxifen.

Keep it away from light and high temperature.

Keep your drugs away from areas where they could get wet, such as bathrooms. Store this drug away from moisture and damp locations.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you, such as in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport X-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
  • Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.

Clinical monitoring

Your doctor may do tests to make sure that your treatment is going well. They may check your:

  • blood cell counts, including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets
  • liver function

You should contact your doctor right away if you have any of the following symptoms. Some of these symptoms may suggest that you’re experiencing a rare but serious side effect associated with tamoxifen:

  • new breast lumps
  • vaginal bleeding
  • changes in your menstrual cycle
  • changes in vaginal discharge
  • pelvic pain or pressure
  • swelling or tenderness in your calf
  • unexplained shortness of breath
  • sudden chest pain
  • coughing up blood
  • changes in your vision

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be more suitable for you than others. Talk to your doctor about possible alternatives.

SECTION 5 of 5

How Much Does tamoxifen Cost?

Oral tablet

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Lowest price for tamoxifen

Rite-Aid $9.99
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Sams Club $16.62
These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for tamoxifen on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

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These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for tamoxifen on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

Show Sources

Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on September 24, 2015

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
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