Results of two or five years of adjuvant tamoxifen correlated to steroid receptor and S-phase levels. South Sweden Breast Cancer Group, and South-East Sweden Breast Cancer Group

M Fernö, O Stål, B Baldetorp, T Hatschek, A C Källström, P Malmström, B Nordenskjöld, S Rydën
Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 2000, 59 (1): 69-76
A Swedish cooperative trial demonstrated that 5 years of adjuvant tamoxifen was more beneficial than 2 years of tamoxifen in the treatment of postmenopausal women with estrogen receptor (ER) positive, early stage, invasive breast cancer. The main aim of the present study was to investigate the importance of progesterone receptor (PgR) and ER concentration levels for patients participating in the trial and still distant recurrence free two years after the primary operation. Subgroup analyses revealed that only patients with ER positive and PgR positive breast cancer had improved distant recurrence free survival (DRFS) by prolonged tamoxifen therapy (p = 0.0016). Patients with ER negative and PgR negative as well as ER positive and PgR negative tumors showed no significant effect of prolonged tamoxifen (p = 0.53 and p = 0.80, respectively). The percentage of ER negative and PgR positive breast cancers was too small (2.2%) for any meaningful subgroup analysis. There was a significant positive trend that the concentration level of PgR (high positive vs. low positive vs. negative) decreased the recurrence rate for those with prolonged therapy. No corresponding pattern was found for the ER content. S-phase fraction did not correlate to the recurrence rate of PgR positive breast cancers. Patients recurring during tamoxifen therapy had receptor negative tumors to a greater extent than those recurring after tamoxifen treatment. In conclusion, prolonged tamoxifen therapy for 5 years instead of 2 years was found to be beneficial for patients with ER positive and PgR positive breast cancer, whereas three extra years of tamoxifen had little or no effect for patients with ER positive but PgR negative tumors as well as for steroid receptor negative patients.

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