Both Aromasin (exemestane) and Nolvadex (tamoxifen) are effective as initial therapy for metastatic breast cancer among postmenopausal women. These results were recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Women with hormone-positive breast cancer have cancer that is stimulated to grow from exposure to the female hormones estrogen and/or progesterone. These women typically are treated with hormonal therapy so that the female hormones do not affect cellular growth of the cancer. Historically, tamoxifen was the most commonly used hormonal therapy agent; however, aromatase agents such as Aromasin have recently advanced into the forefront of hormonal therapy agents used for hormone-positive breast cancer.
Researchers from Belgium recently conducted a clinical trial to compare Aromasin to tamoxifen as initial therapy for the treatment of advanced, hormone-positive breast cancer. This trial included 371 postmenopausal patients at 81 medical centers who were treated with either Aromasin or tamoxifen and were directly compared.
The results of the trial indicated that median progression-free survival was 9.9 months for those treated with Aromasin, compared with 5.8 months for those treated with tamoxifen.
Both agents were well-tolerated. There were no differences in survival between the two groups of patients.
The researchers concluded that Aromasin is an effective and well-tolerated initial hormonal therapy for postmenopausal women with metastatic breast cancer. Furthermore, Aromasin appears to offer significant early improvement in time to tumor progression compared with tamoxifen. However, each agent is associated with different side effects, so patients should always speak with their healthcare provider regarding their individual risks and benefits of therapeutic options.
Reference: Paridaens R, Dirix L, Beex L, et al. Phase III Study Comparing Exemestane With Tamoxifen As First-Line Hormonal Treatment of Metastatic Breast Cancer in Postmenopausal Women: The European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Breast Cancer Cooperative Group. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2008;26:4883-4890.