Classification: Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator (SERM)
Raloxifene is in a class of medications called selective estrogen receptor modulators or SERMs. Most breast cancers need supplies of estrogen (a female hormone produced by the body) to grow. 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. Raloxifene also prevents and treats osteoporosis by mimicking the effects of estrogen to increase the density (thickness) of bone.
How to Take Raloxifene
Raloxifene comes as a tablet to take by mouth. It is usually taken once a day with or without food. It is important to remember to take this medication every day to get the maximum benefit from taking it. If you forget to take a dose, resume your regular schedule – do not double your dose to make up for the missed dose. Your healthcare provider may want you to take calcium and vitamin D with this medication to prevent or treat osteoporosis.
Storage and Handling
Store this medication at room temperature in the original container. If you prefer to use a pillbox, discuss this with your pharmacist. Ask your oncology team where to return any unused medication for disposal. Do not flush down the toilet or throw in the trash.
Where do I get this medication?
Raloxifene is available through most pharmacies. Your oncology team will write you a prescription to be filled at your local or mail-order pharmacy.
This medication may be covered under your prescription drug plan in full, depending upon the reason you being prescribed the medication. The Affordable Care Act dictates that if it is being prescribed to prevent breast cancer, you should have no co-pay, as long as you meet the specific criteria. Patient assistance may be available to qualifying individuals without prescription drug coverage. Co-pay cards, which reduce the patient co-pay responsibility for eligible commercially (non-government sponsored) insured patients, may also be available. Your care team can help you find these resources, if they are available.
Possible Side Effects of Raloxifene
There are a number of things you can do to manage the side effects of raloxifene. Talk to your doctor or nurse about these recommendations. They can help you decide what will work best for you. These are some of the most common side effects:
Hot flashes are more common in the first six months of taking raloxifene. However, there are a few things you can do to help with hot flashes. Several medications have been shown to help with symptoms, including clonidine (a blood pressure medication), low doses of certain antidepressants (such as venlafaxine and Prozac), and gabapentin. Non-medical recommendations include:
Raloxifene can increase the risk of blood clots, stroke and heart attack. If you experience symptoms of these problems, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately or go to an emergency room. Symptoms can include: swelling, redness or pain in an extremity, chest pain or pressure, pain in your arm, back, neck or jaw, shortness of breath, numbness or weakness on one side of the body, trouble talking, confusion or mental status changes.
If you have any of these signs or symptoms of blood clots, you will need to be seen immediately so that you can be treated. Blood thinners can be given.
Other Side Effects
Other reported side effects include:
Exposure of an unborn child to this medication could cause birth defects, so you should not become pregnant or father a child while on this medication. Effective birth control is necessary during treatment, even if your menstrual cycle stops or you believe your sperm is affected. A woman should not breastfeed while taking this medication since it is unknown if the medication is excreted in breast milk.
If you have questions or concerns about the medication that you have been prescribed, please contact your healthcare team. OncoLink is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. The information provided through OncoLink should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.