Aromatase inhibitors for treatment of postmenopausal patients with breast cancer.Expert Rev Anticancer Ther. 2003 Apr; 3(2):193-201.ER
The third generation of aromatase inhibitors and inactivators, such as anastrozole (Arimidex), letrozole (Femara) and exemestane (Aromasin), have become available for treatment of postmenopausal breast cancer patients. Several clinical trials have demonstrated that these new drugs can achieve better treatment results than megestrol acetate (Megace) and may replace tamoxifen for the first-line hormonal therapy for metastatic breast cancer patients. In fact, these drugs are now used in many hospitals and clinics for patients with metastatic breast cancer who were previously given tamoxifen as adjuvant treatment. However, the primary concern is whether they can be used as first-line agents for adjuvant treatment of primary breast cancer or are suitable for breast cancer prevention in view of possible adverse side effects. Recently, the Arimidex and Tamoxifen Alone or in Combination trial demonstrated the superiority in terms of disease-free survival of anastrozole over tamoxifen in adjuvant use for postmenopausal patients with Stage I and II primary breast cancer. The results of this report indicate the potential of anastrozole as an alternative drug in the adjuvant setting, although the mean follow-up time is so far only 47 months. Additional data regarding survival resulting from comparative trials of letrozole and tamoxifen and of exemestane and tamoxifen are expected to be available in a few years. However, limited information is available regarding adverse events caused by long-term administration of aromatase inhibitors. Longer follow-up is needed to determine the efficacy and safety of these new aromatase inhibitors when used for adjuvant treatment of postmenopausal patients with breast cancer.