If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, then your oncologist will develop a plan of care depending on the stage and type of your tumor. Your physician may also base their treatment plan on whether your breast cancer is hormone receptor-positive.
One of the most common breast cancer treatment options for people with hormone receptor-positive tumors is tamoxifen, which is classified as a selective estrogen receptor modulator, also known as a SERM medication. Here are things you need to know if your breast cancer treatment plan includes SERM therapy
Indications And Uses
Tamoxifen and other SERM drugs help lower the risk for hormone-receptor-positive breast cancers from returning after surgery. It is also prescribed to people who have increased risks of developing breast cancer such as genetic predispositions and strong family histories of breast cancer. For these individuals, SERMs are prescribed even though they have never been diagnosed with breast cancer.
The most common types of breast cancer are those that are influenced by estrogen. It is thought that if estrogen is blocked, the risk for hormone-fueled breast cancer may go down. Tamoxifen blocks the effects of estrogen on breast tissue so that the cells are less likely to mutate and become malignant.
Side Effects Of SERM Drugs
While tamoxifen therapy is generally well-tolerated, it can cause side effects in some people. These include some of the same symptoms that people go through when they are in menopause, including hot flashes and night sweats. Other side effects from SERMs can include dry skin, fatigue, vaginal discharge, mood swings, and hair loss. If your breast cancer treatment includes SERM therapy and you experience side effects, tell your doctor.
Certain interventions can help reduce your side effects including getting enough exercise, meditation, staying hydrated, and not smoking. If these interventions are ineffective in managing your side effects, your physician can lower your dosage or discontinue your tamoxifen and replace it with a different type of hormone medication.
If you have breast cancer or if you have risk factors for developing breast cancer, talk to your doctor about SERM therapy. Breast cancer is highly treatable and curable when diagnosed in its early stages. If you notice a lump or thickening in your breast or if the tissue surrounding your nipple is scaly, scabbed, or bleeds, see your doctor. While these signs can be caused by a benign condition, breast cancer needs to be ruled out so that early medical intervention can be implemented.
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