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A new weapon in the breast cancer arsenal.

Recent FDA approval of tamoxifen citrate (Nolvadex) as an adjunct form of therapy in some breast cancer patients provides a welcome addition to the various forms of therapy currently available to women suffering from this all-too-common disease. Although the drug was previously approved in more advanced cases of breast cancer (in which the disease had spread to the lymph nodes), it is now available for treatment of cases in which lymphatic spread has not yet occurred. The primary method of treatment is still surgery-whether total mastectomy or lumpectomy-after which tamoxifen may be used to prevent tumor recurrence.

Like many chemotherapeutic agents, tamoxifen is a potent drug with often serious side effects, particularly for pregnant women. The most frequent adverse reactions include pain, hot flashes, irregular menstrual periods, nausea, vomiting, and vaginal discharge and bleeding. Potentially fatal blood clotting in the brain, heart or lungs can also occur-albeit rarely. This is why the use of the drug was reserved only for women with more advanced disease and less hope of recovery. Although tamoxifen is now available for disease detected in an earlier stage, there is still not enough information to show whether it offers sufficient benefit to women whose tumors are very small (less than 1 cm).

Tamoxifen citrate is manufactured by the ICI Pharma company of Wilmington, Del.
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Title Annotation:tamoxifen citrate
Publication:Medical Update
Date:Jan 1, 1991
Words:218
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