Breast cancer is one ailment common to most women. Never get the impression that being one from the male specie, you are exempted and free from this. In the most recent 2012 study conducted by the American Cancer Society, more than 2,000 men can be diagnosed with this illness which is usually associated to women. The good thing however with breast cancer is the prognosis that when diagnosed and treated early, the afflicted person's survival rate is high.
There are several ways to treat cancer, with mastectomy as the most invasive. Surgery is followed by chemotherapy and radiation. Further treatment after chemotherapy and radio therapy is hormone therapy. The last treatment method however is not prescribed to every breast cancer patient. You need to be tested positive with estrogen and progesterone receptors.
Your oncologist will order for a test of your hormone receptors. If your tumor is found to be estrogen positive (ER positive, ER+) or progesterone positive (progesterone positive, progesterone+), you can be placed under hormone therapy. ER/PR positive tumors are influenced by the levels of such hormones in the body. This can be good news to cancer patients because turning positive can make you more protected from recurrence of breast cancer. You will be prescribed with drugs that will block the estrogen and progesterone receptors on your breast cells.
The usual drug for ER+ and PR+ breast cancer is tamoxifen, the generic name. Many brands of tamoxifen are in the market today. The drugs come in 10 and 20-milligram tablets and had to be taken, once or twice a day, for 5 years. Tamoxifen is the most common hormone therapy treatment but a newer drug - Aromatase inhibitor is also prescribed, usually after the third year of taking tamoxifen. When Aromatase inhibitor is ingested, the use of tamoxifen is stopped.
Why do I have to take tamoxifen? This can be a usual query of patients. For breast cancer patients who had been tested positive for estrogen and progesterone receptors, the drug lowers the risk of recurrence of this cancer. The drug had been used for several decades in treating cancer of the breast and can be safety used by women of all ages, even those who are already in the menopausal stage. Used for 5 years, this drug can effectively lower the risk of breast cancer recurrence. If one of your breasts had been affected by the big C, the risk of the spread of cancer cells in the other breast is lower.
Just line most drugs, tamoxifen is not free from any side effects, most of which are not serious. Among these abnormal and annoying feelings that you can experience are vaginal dryness, hot flashes, thickening of the uterus, vaginal discharge and irritation. There are some more severe effects such as risks involving blood clot, stroke, cataract and ovarian cysts.
Despite the risks, it had been believed that the advantages in the use of tamoxifen outweigh the negatives. Thus, women with ER+ and PR+ hormone receptors are best advised to take the drug as a great solution in the prevention or recurrence of the dreaded Big "C" of the breast.
Felicitas Ramos is a cancer survivor. She has undergone mastectomy, chemotherapy and hormone therapy. She is now in the best of health.