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Raloxifene (Evista®)

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Last Modified: March 11, 2012

Pronounced: ral-OX-i-feen
Classification: Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator

About Raloxifene

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 everyday to get the maximum benefit from taking it. Your healthcare provider may want you to take calcium and vitamin D with this medication to prevent or treat osteoporosis.

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

These tend to reduce in severity and frequency over time and are most common in the first 6 months on therapy. There are a few things you can do to help hot flashes. Several medications have been studied, including clonidine (a blood pressure medication), some low-dose antidepressants (such as venlafaxine and Prozac), and gabapentin. Non-medical recommendations include: keeping well hydrated with 8 glasses of water daily, wearing all-natural fiber clothes, dressing in layers, exercising on a regular basis (generally walking exercise is best), practicing relaxation exercises, and avoiding triggers such as warm rooms, spicy foods, caffeinated beverages and alcohol.

Blood Clots

Blood clots are a rare side effect that can occur anywhere in the body. They occur most frequently in the calves or the lungs. Women at risk for developing blood clots include those with a family history of blood clots, smokers, those who have an inactive lifestyle, older women, and those with other medical problems. Women with any one of these risk factors should discuss them with their healthcare provider.

Signs of a blood clot in the leg may include any of the following: leg pain or feeling of warmth, swelling of one leg more than the other. Signs of a blood clot in the lung could include: fever, shortness of breath that comes on very quickly, racing heart, chest pain (that tends to be worse when you take a deep breath).

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.

Reproductive Concerns

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.

Other Side Effects

Other reported side effects include:

  • Swelling of the feet and ankles.
  • Flu-like feelings, muscle and joint aches. Acetaminophen may help with these side effects. Talk to your doctor if they become bothersome.