Nolvadex (Tamoxifen) is a drug that selectively blocks estrogen receptors in certain body regions, and is used to treat cancer, but also other diseases and syndromes. Nolvadex is a complex and effective drug, and its interaction with estrogen receptors is different depending on the target tissues.
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Mechanism of action
In females breasts, estrogen receptors can activate physiological phenomena that lead to growth and tissue enlargement. When a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer that contains estrogen receptors, this estrogen-induced growth may be detrimental because it leads to tumor extension and spreading. In the breast tissue, specifically, Nolvadex blocks the estrogen receptors, which translates into a substantially diminished and inhibited breast cancer growth. The main purpose for Tamoxifen prescription is thus female breast cancer where immunohistology studies have revealed the presence of estrogen receptors inside the tumor. Nolvadex blocks these receptors and limits tumor growth induced by sexual female hormones. In the endometrium, however, which is part of the female uterus, Tamoxifen actually stimulates estrogen receptors. The same happens in the bone tissue. This is the reason why Nolvadex may also be prescribed to treat infertility or to prevent bone loss in women after menopause, which is known as osteoporosis. This dual action that is exhibited by Nolvadex has led medical researchers to classify the drug as a mixed estrogen agonist/antagonist. Your doctor will carefully evaluate your medical condition and determine where estrogen blockade or stimulation is necessary in your body to treat your medical disorder. Tamoxifen is also used in less frequently encountered diseases, such as the McCune-Albright syndrome, which causes a premature puberty in the afflicted females. Nolvadex is able to prevent the growth retardation associated with excessive amounts of estrogen that stop the bone growth too early, which may result in a short stature. Since the changes induced by Tamoxifen therapy are so complex, it is essential to undergo the treatment only under the supervision of medical professionals, who can monitor the adverse effects and make the needed dosage adjustments. The drug has been extensively studied for other medical purposes, such as in the treatment of bipolar disorder, gynecomastia or other types of cancer. However, currently, breast cancer with estrogen-sensitive cells remains the most frequent medical purpose for Nolvadex treatment.
Is it safe?
Tamoxifen is a safe medication because it passed all the required clinical trials before approval. However, side effects are possible, and they may include changes in cognition, a higher risk for endometrial cancer due to the estrogen-driven stimulation and a temporary elevation of blood lipids or triglycerides. Most of these side effects can be successfully prevented through a careful planning of the treatment and adjustment of the dosages.