The role of aromatase inhibitors as adjuvant therapy for early breast cancer in postmenopausal women

Henning T Mouridsen, Nicholas J Robert
European Journal of Cancer 2005, 41 (12): 1678-89
For endocrine therapy of hormone-sensitive advanced breast cancer in postmenopausal women, the third-generation aromatase inhibitors, letrozole, anastrozole, and exemestane, are effective both as alternatives to tamoxifen in first-line treatment and following first-line tamoxifen failure. These three agents are currently being evaluated as adjuvant therapy of early breast cancer, again relative to the standard, tamoxifen. Three treatment strategies are under investigation: replacement of tamoxifen as adjuvant therapy for 5 years (early adjuvant therapy); sequencing of tamoxifen before or after an aromatase inhibitor during the first 5 years (early sequential adjuvant therapy); or following 5 years of tamoxifen (extended adjuvant therapy). Results of the first early adjuvant trial (Arimidex, Tamoxifen Alone or in Combination [ATAC]) demonstrated that anastrozole was significantly more effective than tamoxifen in reducing the risk of disease recurrence. Two trials sequencing 2-3 years of an aromatase inhibitor after 2-3 years of tamoxifen have also reported results. A large trial (International Collaborative Cancer Group [ICCG] trial 96) found switching to exemestane to be significantly superior to continuing on tamoxifen in disease-free survival, and in a small study (Italian Tamoxifen Arimidex [ITA] trial), similarly sequencing anastrozole after tamoxifen significantly reduced the hazard of recurrence compared with remaining on tamoxifen. Extended adjuvant therapy with 5 years of letrozole versus placebo following 5 years of tamoxifen was evaluated in the MA.17 trial. Compared with placebo, letrozole resulted in a significant improvement in disease-free survival that was irrespective of whether patients had lymph node-positive or -negative tumours. Results of these four trials emphasise the important role of aromatase inhibitors in the adjuvant setting, yet the optimal approach still needs to be defined. A number of trials further evaluating the three adjuvant treatment strategies are ongoing.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"