Breakthrough in hormonal breast cancer therapy

Highlights from the ground-breaking study into the management of early breast cancer the ATAC 'Arimidex', Tamoxifen Alone or in Combination) study were presented today at the 18th UICC Cancer Congress in Oslo.

These data mark a breakthrough in hormonal breast cancer therapy as they clearly demonstrate that anastrozole is significantly more effective than the current 'gold standard' treatment tamoxifen in terms of

  • improving disease-free survival for postmenopausal women with early breast cancer
  • reducing the risk of endometrial cancer
  • reducing incidence of hot flushes and thromboembolic events

The ATAC results show that anastrozole, an aromatase inhibitor (AI), is more effective in reducing the risk of cancer recurring in the same breast, the opposite breast, or elsewhere in the body when compared to tamoxifen. This is the first time an AI has been proved to be superior to tamoxifen in early breast cancer.

Anastrozole was also associated with a number of important tolerability advantages over tamoxifen a key consideration in early breast cancer where women who are otherwise 'healthy' routinely take hormonal treatment for up to 5 years after initial tumour-removing surgery. Perhaps the most important of these, as presented in Oslo today, is the benefit of anastrozole in reducing the risk of developing abnormalities of the lining of the womb (endometrium) when compared to tamoxifen. Data presented from a sub-study of 279 trial patients*) demonstrated that anastrozole halved the risk of endometrial abnormalities compared to tamoxifen.

Speaking today at the UICC Congress, Dr Sean Duffy, from the Division of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at St James University Hospital in Leeds, UK, and lead ATAC sub-protocol investigator said; "This is an extremely important finding. Even though the risk of developing endometrial cancer when taking tamoxifen is small, and the bene

Contact: Hanna Hanes
Norwegian Cancer Society

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