Aromatase inhibitors: A treatment of choice for advanced breast cancer patients

Aromatase inhibitors improve the survival of advanced breast cancer patients compared to standard hormone therapies like tamoxifen, a researchers report in the September 20 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Many advances in breast cancer research have improved therapy for early-stage breast cancer patients, but more research is needed on therapeutic treatments for advanced breast cancer patients. Treatment with aromatase inhibitors in place of traditional hormonal therapies is being explored for advanced breast cancer patients.

John P.A. Ioannidis, M.D., of the University of Ioannina School of Medicine in Greece, and colleagues identified trials that examined the treatment of advanced breast cancer patients with aromatase inhibitors or standard hormone therapies. They found 23 trials with a total of 8,504 patients: 4,559 received treatment with aromatase inhibitors, and 3,945 received standard hormone therapy.

The authors found that third-generation aromatase inhibitors--including vorozole, letrozole, examestane, and anastrazole--increased the survival time for patients with advanced breast cancer. They suggest that aromatase inhibitors should be used as an initial therapy for these patients.

"The meta-analysis offers strong evidence for the use of third-generation aromatase inhibitors and inactivators in the treatment of advanced breast cancer," the authors write.

In an accompanying editorial, Daniel F. Hayes, M.D., and Catherine H. Van Poznak, M.D., of the University of Michigan Health and Hospital System in Ann Arbor, write, "We believe that this study was well executed and that the results are acceptable. The statistical power of this meta-analysis is high because of the large amount of compiled data, and the results support what is already a strong bias in the clinical community."



Article: John P.A. Ioannidis,
Editorial: Daniel Hayes,


Article: Mauri D, Pavlidis N, Polyzos NP, Ioannidis JPA. Survival with Aromatase Inhibitors and Inactivators Versus Standard Hormonal Therapy in Advanced Breast Cancer: Meta-Analysis. J Natl Cancer Inst 2006; 98: 1285-1291.
Editorial: Van Poznak CH, Hayes DF. Aromatase Inhibitors for the Treatment of Breast Cancer: Is Tamoxifen of Historical Interest, Only? J Natl Cancer Inst 2006; 98: 1261-1263.

The Journal of the National Cancer Institute is published by Oxford University Press and is not affiliated with the National Cancer Institute. Attribution to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute is requested in all news coverage. Visit the Journal online at

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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