Toremifene for breast cancer (Fareston)

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Take one tablet of toremifene each day.

You can take the tablet before or after food.

The most common side-effects are hot flushes and sweating.

Type of medicineAn anti-oestrogen hormone antagonist
Used forMetastatic breast cancer
Also calledFareston®
Available asTablets

Treatment options for women with breast cancer include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormone treatment. Often a combination of two or more of these treatments is used. Toremifene is a hormone treatment.

Some breast cancers need the female hormone oestrogen to grow. The cells of these cancers have receptors on their surface that oestrogen can attach to and are called 'hormone receptor-positive' cancers. Toremifene works by blocking the receptors and this prevents oestrogen from reaching the cancer cells. This helps to control the cancer. It is prescribed for women with breast cancer where the cancer cells have also spread to another part of the body, such as the lungs, liver or bones. This sort of breast cancer is referred to as metastatic breast cancer, or secondary breast cancer.

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking toremifene it is important that your doctor knows:

  • If you are still having menstrual periods. If so, you should not take toremifene.
  • If you have had a stroke, a blood clot in your lungs, or deep venous thrombosis (DVT).
  • If you have a heart condition, or a heart rate or rhythm problem.
  • If you have been told the lining of your womb has become thickened, a condition called endometrial hyperplasia.
  • If you have problems with the way your liver works.
  • If you have a rare inherited blood disorder called porphyria.
  • If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
  • Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about toremifene and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
  • Take one 60 mg tablet each day, exactly as your doctor tells you to.
  • You may take toremifene at whatever time of day you find easiest to remember, but try to take your doses at the same time of day, each day. This will help you to remember to take your doses regularly.
  • You can take toremifene tablets before or after meals.
  • If you forget to take a dose at your usual time, take it as soon as you remember. If you do not remember until the following day, skip the missed dose. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
  • Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor or clinic. This is so your doctor can check on your progress. This is particularly important if you also have bone cancer, as you will need to have regular blood tests when you start this treatment.
  • If you are having an operation, tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking toremifene.
  • If you buy any medicines, always check with a pharmacist that they are suitable to take with your other medicines.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with toremifene. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Very common toremifene side-effects (these affect more than 1 in 10 women)
What can I do if I experience this?
Hot flushes and sweatingTry to keep cool by wearing light, airy clothes
Common toremifene side-effects (these affect less than 1 in 10 women)What can I do if I experience this?
Feeling or being sickStick to simple meals and avoid rich or spicy foods
Feeling dizzy or tiredDo not drive or use tools or machines while affected
Vaginal bleeding or dischargeLet your doctor know straightaway so the cause can be investigated. Your doctor will want to check to see if there are any changes that could cause concern in the lining of your womb
Itchy skin rash, swollen feet or ankles, feeling depressedIf any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor for advice

Some women taking toremifene have experienced a problem with a blood clot in the legs or lungs. Although this occurs less commonly than the side-effects mentioned above, if you experience any pain or swelling in a leg, or have any shortness of breath, please contact a doctor for advice as soon as possible.

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the tablets, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

  • Manufacturer's PIL, Fareston® 60 mg Tablets; Orion Pharma (UK) Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated August 2014.
  • British National Formulary; 68th Edition (Sep 2014) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr John Cox
Document ID:
3746 (v24)
Last Checked:
Next Review:
The Information Standard - certified member

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