Tamoxifen is a prescription drug that has been in existence for a number of years. It’s the generic form whereas, Saltamox is the brand name. It can be prescribed to both men and women.
What is the Medicine Used for in Men?
To treat breast cancer
Males are at risk of breast cancer, although they do not have breast like females. They have a small quantity of breast tissue; breast of a man is identical to the breast of a young girl before she gets to puberty. In a girl, the tissue will grow and develop once puberty sets in, but in a man, it does not. There are different types of breast cancer, which affect men, though the cancers which affect the parts that produce as well as store milk are rare.
Males at risk of breast cancer are above 35 years; the chance of developing breast cancer increases with age. Males between 60 to 70 years are more prone to breast cancer. Below are risk factors for breast cancer:
- Family history
- Exposure of radiation on the chest
- Breast enlargement termed as gynecomastia
- Taking estrogen
- Klinefelter’s syndrome – it’s a genetic condition, buts it’s rare
- Cirrhosis – a severe liver disease
- Ailments affecting the testicles like mumps orchitis or undescended testicles
If you detect a lump in the chest, it’s advisable to seek medical attention. Don’t ignore a lump since many males delay seeking medical help and do so when it’s already too late; when the symptoms are serious for example bleeding from the nipple. In such a point breast cancer may have advanced and spread. The health professional will perform a physical exam and you will undergo some tests like mammography and biopsies. The doctor may prescribe hormonal therapy such as Tamoxifen for men. Males with breast cancer respond well to hormonal therapy when compared to women. Why is this so? The majority of the men have breast cancer, which depends on hormones to grow and spread. A man’s body produces a minimal amount of estrogen and progesterone hormone. Some types of breast cancer cells have receptors for estrogen as well as progesterone hormones. If the hormones bind to these receptors, the growth of cancer cells is fueled. Tamoxifen works by stopping estrogen and progesterone from attaching on the breast cancer cells. Without estrogen and progesterone means the growth of cancer cells is hindered.
Other Uses for Tamoxifen
Males are also prone to prostate cancer; it’s believed to be among the most common cancers in men. Early diagnosis and treatment prevent complications; hence it’s advisable to go for annual checkups as well as screening since there aren’t early prostate cancer symptoms.
Androgen hormones are crucial for normal growth as well as the function of the prostate (a male reproductive gland which produces semen). Additionally, they are required by prostate cancer to grow and spread. Androgens mainly comprise of testosterone and dihydrotestosterone in males; they fuel the growth of cancerous and non-cancerous prostate cells. The hormones bind and activate the androgen receptor. Prostate cancer cells, which rely on androgens, are termed as androgen-dependent. Testicles mainly produce testosterone; however, a minimal amount of the hormone is produced by the adrenal glands located above the kidneys.
One of the treatments for prostate cancer is the hormonal therapy, which works as follows:
- Minimize androgen production by the testicles
- Inhibits actions of androgen in the body
- Prevent release of androgens throughout the body
Androgen suppression therapy slows down the growth of cancer; the tumors shrink, although cancer may have spread to other body parts. The aim of the hormonal therapy is to manage cancer; the therapy places prostate cancer on hold for a handful of years and improves the symptoms such as bone pain and urinary issues. If hormonal therapy is used in males whose cancer has not spread or spread slightly, it kills cancer cells and shrinks the remaining gland. This makes it easier for the man to be treated later with surgery or radiotherapy.
Hormonal therapy is effective and has been beneficial to many men; nevertheless, many males will experience negative effects due to androgen suppression such as:
- Gynecomastia (breast enlargement)
- Weight gain
- Muscle loss
- Decreased libido
- Mood swings
Breast enlargement in males is embarrassing and may lead to low self-esteem. Males may also have breast pain as a result of this condition. Thus men on androgen therapy are put on Tamoxifen for men to suppress breast enlargement and breast pain.
Also, the drug is used by bodybuilders to treat gyno. Bodybuilders use anabolic steroids, which lead to breast enlargement. It’s advisable to seek medical attention and the medical care provider may prescribe Tamoxifen. It works to treat breast enlargement by preventing the conversion of testosterone hormone into estrogen during a cycle, so the estrogen levels are decreased.
The drug is also used as a fertility pill in males with low sperm count. It increases sperm production by increasing testosterone levels. The tablet is taken orally and the dosage will depend on the condition being treated. But most of the times, the starting dose is 10 mg to 20 mg taken once daily. Adhere strictly on the dose prescribed, do not take more or less of the drug. To get the wanted effects, the dose may be adjusted.
Like any other drug, Tamoxifen for men lead to unwanted effects. Each man is different; hence the negative effects will vary from one man to another. Before you start taking the medicine, get to know from your physician on what to expect while on the medication; this will keep you prepared in case the side effects occur. If possible, ask the medical care provider to refer you to men who have been on the medicine. Learn from them on how the drug reacted to them and how they coped.
While on treatment, remember to be vigilant about the negative effects, consult the doctor on how to manage the negative effects. The side effects of the drug are similar to those experienced by women. Below are the undesired effects which you may encounter:
- Weight gain
- Sexual problems
- Hot flashes
- Memory and thinking problems
- Blood clots
- Vision problems
- Hot flashes
Many males find the side effects unbearable and stop taking the medication. It’s advisable to inform the medical practitioner if the undesirable effects become unbearable before you stop taking the drug; bear in mind the physician has put you on the drug because you will benefit more from it.