Focus on anastrozole and breast cancer.Curr Med Res Opin. 2003; 19(8):683-8.CM
This commentary article provides an overview of recent clinical research trials involving anastrozole and its evolving role in the management of breast cancer. Anti-aromatase agents inhibit the cytochrome P-450 component of the aromatase enzyme complex responsible for the final step of estrogen biosynthesis in peripheral tissues which are the main source of estrogen in postmenopausal women. Anastrozole is a third-generation non-steroidal aromatase inhibitor. It has been shown to be superior to megestrol acetate, in terms of survival and adverse effects, as a second-line therapy in postmenopausal women with estrogen receptor (ER)- and/or progesterone receptor (PgR)-positive advanced breast cancer. Phase III clinical trials have also demonstrated that anastrozole significantly prolongs the time to tumour progression compared with tamoxifen as a first-line therapy for ER- and/or PgR-positive advanced breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Furthermore, the preliminary results of the Arimidex, Tamoxifen, Alone and in Combination (ATAC) study have shown that adjuvant anastrozole is superior to tamoxifen in terms of disease-free survival (DFS), non-musculoskeletal adverse effects and prevention of contralateral breast cancer in postmenopausal women with early, ER-positive breast cancer. Although longer follow-up is required to assess the long-term effects of anastrozole on bone mineral density, cognitive function and overall survival, the drug has been recently approved for adjuvant use in postmenopausal women with early, ER-positive breast cancer who are unable to tolerate tamoxifen or at an increased risk of developing thromboembolism or endometrial cancer. The potential role of anastrozole in the neoadjuvant setting, the management of DCIS, premenopausal breast cancer and breast cancer prevention is currently being investigated.