Mature results of a randomized phase II multicenter study of exemestane versus tamoxifen as first-line hormone therapy for postmenopausal women with metastatic breast cancer

R Paridaens, L Dirix, C Lohrisch, L Beex, M Nooij, D Cameron, L Biganzoli, T Cufer, L Duchateau, A Hamilton, J P Lobelle, M Piccart
Annals of Oncology: Official Journal of the European Society for Medical Oncology 2003, 14 (9): 1391-8

BACKGROUND: Women with hormone-responsive metastatic breast cancer (MBC) may respond to or have stable disease with a number of hormone therapies. We explored the efficacy and safety of the steroidal aromatase inactivator exemestane as first-line hormonal therapy in MBC in postmenopausal women.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Patients with measurable disease were eligible if they had received no prior hormone therapy for metastatic disease and had hormone receptor positive disease or hormone receptor unknown disease with a long disease-free interval from adjuvant therapy. They were randomized to tamoxifen 20 mg/day or exemestane 25 mg/day in this open-label study.

RESULTS: Blinded independently reviewed response rates for exemestane and tamoxifen were 41% and 17%, respectively. Fifty-seven per cent of exemestane- and 42% of tamoxifen-treated patients experienced clinical benefit, defined as complete or partial response, or disease stabilization lasting at least 6 months. There was a low incidence of severe flushing, sweating, nausea and edema in women who received exemestane. One exemestane-treated patient had a pulmonary embolism with grade 4 dyspnea.

CONCLUSIONS: Exemestane is well tolerated and active in the first-line treatment of hormone-responsive MBC. An ongoing EORTC phase III trial is comparing the efficacy, measuring time-to-disease progression, of exemestane and tamoxifen.

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