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Long-term efficacy and safety of letrozole for the adjuvant treatment of early breast cancer in postmenopausal women: a review

Authors Monnier A

Published 11 September 2009 Volume 2009:5 Pages 725—738


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Alain Monnier

Institut Régional Fédératif du Cancer (IFRC), Centre Hospitalier Belfort-Montbéliard, Montbéliard, France

Abstract: Aromatase inhibitors (AIs) are becoming more widely used than tamoxifen as adjuvant hormonal therapy for postmenopausal women (PMW) with early breast cancer (EBC). It is clear that these drugs offer important efficacy benefits over tamoxifen and differ from tamoxifen in their safety profile. The accepted strategies for adjuvant AI therapy include initial adjuvant treatment following surgery, switching and/or sequencing from prior tamoxifen, and extended adjuvant therapy following the full 5 years of tamoxifen treatment. Among the available AIs, letrozole has been evaluated in large, well-controlled, double-blind clinical trials in the initial adjuvant, extended adjuvant, and more recently, the sequential adjuvant settings. Letrozole is the most potent of the AIs and provides near complete suppression of plasma estrogens in PMW. Letrozole also significantly reduces the occurrence of early distant metastases, the most lethal type of recurrence event, which can lead to improved survival. Clinical comparisons of letrozole with both tamoxifen and placebo have also provided important long-term safety data on the use of AIs as adjuvant therapy in PMW with EBC. The weight of clinical evidence indicates that letrozole is a safe and effective option for adjuvant hormonal therapy across all three AI treatment settings.

Keywords: aromatase inhibitor, breast cancer, hormonal therapy, letrozole, postmenopausal women, tamoxifen

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