Anastrozole as an Adjuvant Endocrine Treatment for Postmenopausal Patients with Breast Cancer: Emerging Data
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The Arimidex, Tamoxifen, Alone or in Combination (ATAC) trial compared the efficacy and safety of anastrozole versus tamoxifen versus the combination as initial adjuvant treatment for early breast cancer in over 9,000 postmenopausal women. Analyses at 33 and 47 months median follow-up showed that anastrozole significantly prolonged disease-free survival and time to recurrence and reduced the incidence of contralateral breast cancer compared with tamoxifen. Results of the completed treatment analysis at 68 months median follow-up confirmed the earlier findings, showing that the absolute difference in disease-free survival continued to increase beyond completion of treatment. Mature safety data from the ATAC trial show that, overall, anastrozole has a favorable safety profile compared with tamoxifen. In the absence of current data on further follow-up or the outcome of trials investigating proactive sequencing of endocrine therapies, we present a model based on several trials, including ATAC. This model suggests that using an aromatase inhibitor as initial adjuvant therapy is a better option than switching to an aromatase inhibitor after >/=2 years of tamoxifen. The relative toxicities of the three approved third-generation aromatase inhibitors, anastrozole, letrozole, and exemestane, are discussed. These data suggest that long-term safety profiles may differ between aromatase inhibitors, although comprehensive comparative data for letrozole and exemestane versus tamoxifen are lacking.
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