When is it right to take tamoxifen?


Question from Arlene NJ: I had a tumor less than 2 centimeters with 3 lymph nodes removed. I've had chemo and radiation. My estrogen was negative. Why is my doctor not recommending tamoxifen? I feel I need to do something for prevention. Right now, I am not on any further meds.
Answers - Marisa Weiss, M.D. There is so much talk about tamoxifen. Most women feel a lot of pressure to take it. It really is a big commitment to take that medication for 5 years. If your cancer was without hormone receptors, then tamoxifen does not offer significant benefit to you and it has some side effects. It is true that all my patients who are without these receptors feel insecure about not having tamoxifen, but the reason why your doctor is not recommending it is because the balance of benefits and side effects don't weigh out in your favor. There are other things that you can do to take care of yourself to reduce your chance of any kind of illness. That includes eating well, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, stopping smoking, minimizing your alcohol use, and trying to reduce the stress in your life. Avoid foods with chemicals or pesticides or hormones added. Choices like that.

On Wednesday, June 20, 2001, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Tackling Fear. Lillie Shockney, R.N., B.S., M.A.S.,Marisa Weiss, M.D. and moderator Gwen Darien, Editor-in-Chief, MAMM Magazine, answered your questions about how to manage breast cancer fears.

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