Adjuvant Hormonal Therapy for Breast Cancer

  • After 10 years of follow-up from NSABP B-14:
    • A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial:
      • Comparing tamoxifen to placebo in women with node-negative estrogen receptor-positive invasive breast cancer
    • A statistically significant:
      • Disease-free survival (DFS) benefit was derived with the use of tamoxifen for 5 years:
        • 69% vs 57%, P<0.0001
    • Tamoxifen was also associated with:
      • A 37% reduction in contralateral breast cancers
  • The NSABP B-24 trial:
    • Was designed to determine whether lumpectomy and postoperative breast irradiation plus prolonged tamoxifen therapy:
      • Is more effective than lumpectomy and breast irradiation without tamoxifen in preventing the subsequent occurrence of ipsilateral and contralateral breast cancers in patients with non-invasive ductal carcinoma in situ
  • The results of NSABP B-14 paved the way:
    • For the administration of additional adjuvant hormonal therapy
    • More specifically:
    • The administration of aromatase inhibitors after completion of tamoxifen therapy became of interest
  • NSABP B-33 was developed to compare:
    • Exemestane with placebo:
      • In recurrence-free postmenopausal women who completed 5 years of tamoxifen therapy
    • Accrual to this study was terminated prematurely:
      • When results of NCIC-CTG MA.17 showed:
        • A significant improvement with letrozole after 5 years of tamoxifen
        • With a median follow-up of 64 months, the hazard ratios of letrozole after 5 years of tamoxifen compared to placebo after similar tamoxifen therapy were:
          • 0.52 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.45 to 0.61; P<.001) for DFS
          • 0.51 (95% CI, 0.42 to 0.61; P<.001) for distant DFS
          • 0.61 (95% CI, 0.52 to 0.71; P<.001) for overall survival
  • The patients in NSABP B-33:
    • Were then unblinded and offered 5 years of exemestane
      • The improvement in relapse-free survival observed in NSABP B-33 with exemestane:
        • Was similar to that observed in the NCIC-CTG MA.17 trial with letrozole
  • To further examine the benefits of aromatase inhibitors as primary therapy or after 2 to 5 years of tamoxifen in women with early-stage, hormone receptor-positive breast cancer:
    • The MA.17R trial:
      • Analyzed prolonging duration of therapy to 10 years:
        • With DFS as the primary endpoint
      • The results of this study were recently presented:
        • The study randomized 1918 women to placebo versus letrozole
        • Median follow-up of 6.3 years
        • DFS was 95% for the letrozole group and 91% for the placebo group
        • There was also an improvement in the annual incidence of contralateral breast cancer:
          • With the letrozole group at 0.21% versus 0.49% for the placebo group
        • These data support:
          • A new standard of care for this patient population, ie, to improve DFS through 10-year treatment with aromatase inhibitors


  1. Fisher B, Dignam J, Bryant J, Wolmark N. Five versus more than five years of tamoxifen for lymph node-negative breast cancer: updated findings from the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project B-14 randomized trial. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2001;93:684-690.
  2. Fisher B, Jeong JH, Dignam J, et al. Findings from recent National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project studies in stage I breast cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst Monogr. 2001;93:62-66.
  3. Ingle JN, Tu D, Pater JL, et al. Intent-to-treat analysis of the placebo-controlled trial of letrozole for extended adjuvant therapy in early breast cancer: NCIC CTG MA.17. Ann Oncol. 2008;19:877-882.
  4. Jin H, Tu D, Zhao N, Shepherd LE, Goss PE. Long-term outcomes of letrozole versus placebo after 5 years of tamoxifen in the NCIC CTG MA.17 trial: analyses adjusting for treatment crossover. J Clin Oncol. 2012;30:718-721.
  5. Lemieux J, Goss PE, Parulekar WR, et al. Patient-reported outcomes from MA.17R: a randomized trial of extending adjuvant letrozole for 5 years after completing an initial 5 years of aromatase inhibitor therapy alone or preceded by tamoxifen in postmenopausal women with early-stage breast cancer. J Clin Oncol. 2016;34 (suppl; abstr LBA506).
  6. Mamounas EP, Jeong JH, Wickerham DL, et al. Benefit from exemestane as extended adjuvant therapy after 5 years of adjuvant tamoxifen: intention-to-treat analysis of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project B-33 trial. J Clin Oncol. 2008;26:1965-1971.

#Arrangoiz #Surgeon #BreastSurgeon #CancerSurgeon BreastCancer #SurgicalOncologist

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