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Back to Oncology Drug index

Back to Antiestrogens

Name: Tamoxifen citrate

Pregnancy Category D

Drug classes

  • Antiestrogen

Therapeutic actions

Potent antiestrogenic effects: competes with estrogen for binding sites in target tissues, such as the breast.


  • Adjunct with cytotoxic chemotherapy following radical or modified radical mastectomy to delay recurrence of surgically curable breast cancer in postmenopausal women or women older than 50 y with positive axillary nodes
  • Treatment of advanced, metastatic breast cancer in women and men
  • Unlabeled uses: treatment of mastalgia; useful for decreasing size and pain of gynecomastia; preventive therapy for women at high risk of breast cancer; treatment of pancreatic carcinoma


  • Allergy to tamoxifen, pregnancy, lactation.

Adverse effects

  • CNS: Depression, lightheadedness, dizziness, headache, corneal opacity, decreased visual acuity, retinopathy
  • GI: Nausea, vomiting, food distaste
  • Hematologic: Hypercalcemia, especially in patients with bone metastases, thrombocytopenia, leukopenia, anemia
  • GU: Vaginal bleeding, vaginal discharge, menstrual irregularities, pruritus vulvae
  • Dermatologic: Hot flashes, skin rash
  • Other: Peripheral edema; increased bone and tumor pain and local disease (initially seen with a good tumor response, usually subsides); cancer in animal studies
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