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Aromatase Inhibitors May Be More Effective Than Tamoxifen

-- A. Agrawal, PhD

Monday, December 7, 2009

MONDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Long-term treatment of breast cancers with aromatase inhibitors (AIs) such as anastrozole may reduce recurrence and breast cancer deaths compared with tamoxifen, according to a study published online Nov. 30 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Mitch Dowsett, Ph.D., from the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, and colleagues performed a meta-analysis of trials of two groups of postmenopausal women with estrogen receptor-positive breast tumors. The first group of trials involved 9,856 patients who received an AI (anastrozole, letrozole, or exemestane) or tamoxifen for five years starting soon after surgery. The second group of trials involved 9,015 patients who received tamoxifen for two to three years, then either switched to an AI or continued with tamoxifen for two to three years for a total of five years.

For the first group, the researchers found that an AI was associated with significantly reduced recurrence (9.6 versus 12.6 percent) and non-significantly reduced breast cancer mortality (4.8 versus 5.9 percent) compared with tamoxifen. For the second group, an AI was also associated with significantly reduced recurrence (5.0 versus 8.1 percent) and significantly reduced breast cancer mortality (1.7 versus 2.4 percent) versus tamoxifen. AIs were not associated with an increase in non-breast cancer deaths.

"AIs produce significantly lower recurrence rates compared with tamoxifen, either as initial monotherapy or after two to three years of tamoxifen," Dowsett and colleagues conclude.

Several authors reported financial, consulting, or advisory relationships with pharmaceutical companies.

Abstract
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Specialties Cardiology
Diabetes & Endocrinology
Internal Medicine
Family Practice

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