Pharmacology Cancer Drugs #5

Question

A breast cancer survivor is prescribed tamoxifen therapy to prevent reoccurance. Which side effect should be reported immediately to the healthcare provider?

Answers

  1. Hot flashes
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because common side effects of tamoxifen include hot flashes, muscle cramps, fatigue, depression, mood swings, constipation, and dry skin. Serious side effects that should be reported include leg pain or swelling, chest pain, shortness of breath, and sudden severe headache.

  2. Muscle cramps
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because common side effects of tamoxifen include hot flashes, muscle cramps, fatigue, depression, mood swings, constipation, and dry skin. Serious side effects that should be reported include leg pain or swelling, chest pain, shortness of breath, and sudden severe headache.

  3. Leg swelling
    • Rationale:

      This answer is correct because serious side effects that should be reported include leg pain or swelling, chest pain, shortness of breath, and sudden severe headache. Common side effects of tamoxifen include hot flashes, muscle cramps, fatigue, depression, mood swings, constipation, and dry skin.

  4. Fatigue
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because common side effects of tamoxifen include hot flashes, muscle cramps, fatigue, depression, mood swings, constipation, and dry skin. Serious side effects that should be reported include leg pain or swelling, chest pain, shortness of breath, and sudden severe headache.

Overview

A client taking tamoxifen should immediately report leg swelling since it could indicate a blood clot in the leg.

Explanation

Learning Outcomes

Tamoxifen is a hormonal therapy used to block the estrogen effects in the breast. It is one of the oldest and most commonly prescribed selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERM). It is used to treat, prevent occurence in high-risk individuals, and prevent recurrence of breast cancer. Common side effects of tamoxifen include hot flashes, muscle cramps, fatigue, depression, mood swings, constipation, and dry skin. Serious side effects that should be reported include leg pain or swelling, chest pain, shortness of breath, and sudden severe headache. Memory problems have also been reported.

Test Taking Tip

Note that the answer said “leg” swelling (singular) not edema of the ankles or legs (plural). Unilateral leg pain or swelling is a big cue for potential deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Video Rationale