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Use in postmenopausal breast cancer patients tied to 20 percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease

Thursday, December 9, 2010 (Last Updated: 12/10/2010)

THURSDAY, Dec. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Postmenopausal women who undergo breast cancer treatment with aromatase inhibitors appear to be at an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a study presented at the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, held from Dec. 8 to 12.

In a meta-analysis, Eitan Amir, M.D., of the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, and colleagues evaluated data from seven large randomized clinical trials that compared tamoxifen with aromatase inhibitors in postmenopausal women with early-stage breast cancer. The investigators also evaluated whether switching from treatment with tamoxifen to aromatase inhibitors had any effect on adverse events.

The investigators found a 20 percent higher probability of developing cardiovascular disease and a 48 percent higher risk of fractures associated with any duration of any aromatase inhibitor used; aromatase inhibitor use was tied to a reduced risk for venous thrombosis and endometrial carcinoma (odds ratios, 0.53 and 0.32, respectively). The investigators also found that the risk of serious adverse events was similar among those who were initially treated with aromatase inhibitors and those who switched to aromatase inhibitors after treatment with tamoxifen.

"However, it appears from the data -- and this is strictly hypothesis-generating -- that if a woman switches from one drug to another, there is a reduction in the risk from death from causes other than breast cancer," Amir said in a statement. "This potentially suggests that there may be side effects that build up the longer a woman is on a certain drug, but switching drugs may reduce the side effects."

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Specialties Hematology & Oncology
OBGYN & Women's Health
Internal Medicine

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