You may have heard about the old proverb that sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. In this article, I will be explaining a case in which one of those situations is true. A case where the prescription drug used for treatment is as bad or worse than the disease it is being treated for. There are five steps that almost every person goes through upon being diagnosed with any type of cancer including breast cancer.
The first reaction upon hearing the result and prognosis will be shock at the news. It is difficult to believe the prognosis because you can’t believe it is happening to you. This is followed by denial as you think the test results are incorrect. You work out, watch your weight and are careful about exposure to chemicals, yet you got cancer. You might even go for a second opinion to make sure your first doctor knows what he is doing. Then comes anger and the why me mentality including how life is not fair. After all the emotions and steps are complete, the conclusion comes with hope and the desire to fight the disease.
There are different types of breast cancers (#breast cancer) that can develop in both men and women. Some are aggressive and gene mutation specific which require certain particular treatments. Other types are broad general types of cancers that require the hormone estrogen to grow. Depending on what type of breast cancer develops, a treatment can be developed for treatment. We will be focusing on two main types of breast cancers which can be treated by tamoxifen. These cancers are the early ER+ (estrogen receptor positive) and late ER+.
Breast cancers that are ER+ can develop in men and in women both pre and post menopausal. We know that estrogen receptors are over-expressed in the majority of breast cancers which is also known as ER-positive.There are two main ideas for these types, first, the binding of estrogen to the ER (estrogen receptor) stimulates the proliferation of mammary cells. This increases cell division and DNA replication so your body basically is growing at a faster rate which leads to mutations. On top of that, the extra cell division increases the amount of genotoxic ( chemical agents that damages the genetic information within a cell) waste. These two actions will disrupt the natural cell cycle, the ability for the body to repair itself and form a tumor.
Tamoxifen (Nolvadex) is a generic prescription medication designed to compete with estrogen to connect to the ER binding site. The difference is that Tamoxifen does not activate the ER receptors to increase cell production. It helps stop the formation of tumors. Now it will not kill off the tumors just stop them from growing. Tamoxifen citrate is processed in your liver and is not organ specific. By this I mean, it won’t just be used in breast cancer cells. It will target any cell that has an ER receptor. Tamoxifen is prescribed for the prevention of breast cancer in women at high risk of developing it and for ER+ cases. This is a form of hormone therapy that slows or stops the growth of hormone-sensitive tumors by interfering with hormone action.
Tamoxifen side effects are serious enough to consider whether you want to use this medication. Let us begin with the easier side effects such as hot flashes, nausea, dizziness, depression, headaches, weight loss, cramps, constipation, vision problems, unusual bruising or bleeding, blisters, rash, restlessness and muscle weakness. Although serious, these side effects are manageable.
The side effects of Tamoxifen that might have you second guess its use it that this medication may cause cancer of the uterus (womb), liver cancer, increase development of cataracts, strokes, and blood clots in the lungs. Even though it is effective at treating one type of breast cancer, it may cause another type of cancer due to its use. If you are being treated for depression using selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), antidepressants such as Paroxetine (Paxil), Fluoxetine (Prozac), and Sertraline (Zoloft), the effectiveness of Tamoxifen decreases significantly whereby a relapse can occur.
Considering that this drug is older, would you use it for treatment?