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Raloxifene

Raloxifene

Why is this medication prescribed?

Raloxifene is used to prevent and treat osteoporosis (condition in which the bones become thin and weak and break easily) in women who have undergone menopause (change of life; end of menstrual periods). Raloxifene is also used to decrease the risk of developing invasive breast cancer (breast cancer that has spread outside of the milk ducts or lobules into the surrounding breast tissue) in women who are at high risk of developing this type of cancer or who have osteoporosis. Raloxifene cannot be used to treat invasive breast cancer or to prevent invasive breast cancer from coming back in women who have already had the condition. Raloxifene also cannot be used to decrease the risk of developing non-invasive breast cancer. Raloxifene is in a class of medications called selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs). Raloxifene prevents and treats osteoporosis by mimicking the effects of estrogen (a female hormone produced by the body) to increase the density (thickness) of bone. Raloxifene decreases the risk of developing invasive breast cancer by blocking the effects of estrogen on breast tissue. This may stop the development of tumors that need estrogen to grow.

How should this medicine be used?

Raloxifene comes as a tablet to take by mouth. It is usually taken once a day with or without food. Take raloxifene at around the same time every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take raloxifene exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

Continue to take raloxifene even if you feel well. Do not stop taking raloxifene without talking to your doctor.

Side Effects:

Important things to remember about the side effects of Raloxifene:

  • Most people do not experience all of the side effects listed.
  • Side effects are often predictable in terms of their onset and duration.
  • Side effects are almost always reversible and will go away after treatment is complete.
  • There are many options to help minimize or prevent side effects.
  • There is no relationship between the presence or severity of side effects and the effectiveness of the medication.

The following side effects are common (occurring in greater than 30%) for patients taking Raloxifene:

Note:  There are no common side effects of Raloxifene

These side effects are less common side effects (occurring in about 10-29%) of patients receiving Raloxifene:

  • Hot flashes (see sexuality)
  • Flu-like syndrome
  • Joint pain
  • Rhinitis (see cold symptoms)

A rare, but serious side effect of Raloxifene is blood clots, including deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolus.  You should seek emergency help and notify your health care provider immediately if you develop sudden chest pain and shortness of breath.  Notify your health care provider within 24 hours if you notice that one leg is swollen, red, painful and/or warm to touch and the other is not.

How Raloxifene Works:

Hormones are chemical substances that are produced by glands in the body, which enter the bloodstream and cause effects in other tissues.  For example, the hormone testosterone, made in the testicles and is responsible for male characteristics such as deepening voice and increased body hair.  The use of hormone therapy to treat cancer is based on the observation that receptors for specific hormones that are needed for cell growth are on the surface of some tumor cells.  Hormone therapy can work by stopping the production of a certain hormone, blocking hormone receptors, or substituting chemically similar agents for the active hormone, which cannot be used by the tumor cell.  The different types of hormone therapies are categorized by their function and/or the type of hormone that is affected.

Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator: [Raloxifene]  SERM (Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator) describes drugs that act like estrogen in some organs and as an anti-estrogen in others.

Raloxifene acts like estrogen to prevent bone loss and improve lipid profiles (decreases total and LDL cholesterol but does not raise triglycerides), but it has the potential to block some estrogen effects such as those that lead to breast cancer and uterine cancer.

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