Clinical outcomes of ethnic minority women in MA.17: a trial of letrozole after 5 years of tamoxifen in postmenopausal women with early stage breast cancer
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BACKGROUND: Aromatase inhibitors are widely employed in the adjuvant treatment of early stage breast cancer. The impact of aromatase inhibitors has not been established in ethnic minority women. PATIENTS AND METHODS: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of letrozole on minority women in MA.17, a placebo-controlled trial of letrozole following 5 years of tamoxifen in postmenopausal women with early stage breast cancer. Retrospective comparison of disease-free survival (DFS), side effects, and mean changes in quality of life (QOL) scores from baseline between Caucasian and minority women was performed. RESULTS: Minority (n = 352) and Caucasian (n = 4708) women were analyzed. There was no difference between these groups in DFS (91.6% versus 92.4% respectively for 4 year DFS). Letrozole, compared with placebo, significantly improved DFS for Caucasians (HR = 0.55; P < 0.0001) but not for minorities (HR = 1.39; P = 0.53). Among women who received letrozole, minorities had a significantly lower incidence of hot flashes (49% versus 58%; P = 0.02), fatigue (29% versus 39%; P = 0.005), and arthritis (2% versus 7%; P = 0.006) compared with Caucasians. Mean change in QOL scores for minority women who received letrozole demonstrated improved mental health at the 6-month assessment (P = 0.02) and less bodily pain at the 12-month assessment (P = 0.046). CONCLUSION: Letrozole improved DFS in Caucasians but a definite benefit in minority women has not yet been demonstrated. Minority women tolerated letrozole better than Caucasians in terms of toxicity. These results need confirmation in other trials of aromatase inhibitors.
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