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What is Nolvadex?

Nolvadex is the brand name of tamoxifen citrate, a drug used in the prevention and treatment of breast cancer. Nolvadex is taken orally in pill form.

Initially, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Nolvadex as a treatment for breast cancer in the 1970s.

Nolvadex is an example of a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) type of drug that works by binding to estrogen receptors on estrogen-dependent breast cancer cells, thereby blocking their ability to absorb estrogen. Without a supply of estrogen to stimulate their growth, the breast cancer cells “starve” and die.

In 1998, Nolvadex became the first drug to be approved by the FDA to prevent breast cancer. Research showed that the Nolvadex reduced the chances of developing breast cancer by 50% in women at high risk for the disease.

In post-menopausal women treated for estrogen receptor- positive (ER-positive) breast cancer, Nolvadex reduces the risk of relapse (recurrence) and metastasis. Use of Nolvadex in these types of patients for 5 years resulted in 81.4% disease-free survival (i.e., survival with no evidence of recurrence).[1]

As Nolvadex blocks the action of estrogen, some side effects are possible.


1. National Cancer Institute. NCI Cancer Bulletin. 2006; 3(2) :4.

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