SUMMARY: Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the US and about 1 in 8 women (12%) will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime. Approximately, 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2015 and over 40,000 women will die of the disease.Estrogen Receptor (ER) positive breast cancer cells are driven by estrogens. Tamoxifen is a nonsteroidal Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator (SERM) and works mainly by binding to the Estrogen Receptor and thus blocks the proliferative actions of estrogen on the mammary tissue. Anastrozole is a non-steroidal Aromatase Inhibitor that binds reversibly to the aromatase enzyme and inhibits the conversion of androgens to estrogens in the extra-gonadal tissues. Aromatase Inhibitors such as ARIMIDEX® have been proven to be superior to Tamoxifen, as adjuvant therapy, in postmenopausal patients with hormone receptor positive breast cancer. It was however not known whether ARIMIDEX® was superior to Tamoxifen in preventing the recurrence of breast cancer.
NSABP B-35 is a randomized phase III trial which compared ARIMIDEX® to Tamoxifen, in preventing the recurrence of breast cancer, in postmenopausal women with Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS), who underwent lumpectomy and radiation therapy. Of the 3,104 patients who were enrolled and randomized, 1552 patients received ARIMIDEX® 1 mg PO daily and 1552 patients received Tamoxifen 20 mg PO daily. Treatment was continued for 5 years. Enrolled patients had tumors with no invasive component, Estrogen or Progesterone Receptors were positive and margins of resection were clear. The primary endpoint was Breast Cancer-Free Interval (BCFI), defined as the time from randomization to any breast cancer event including local, regional, or distant recurrence or contralateral invasive cancer or DCIS. With a median follow up of 8.6 years, the 10 year Breast Cancer–Free Interval rates were 93.5% with ARIMIDEX® versus 89.2% with Tamoxifen, and this was statistically significant (HR=0.73, P=0.03). This benefit was more so in women less than 60 years of age, with a Breast Cancer–Free Interval rates of 94.9% with ARIMIDEX® and 88.2% with Tamoxifen (HR=0.52, P=0.003). However, in women over 60 years of age, there were no significant differences in outcomes noted between the ARIMIDEX® and Tamoxifen groups. The incidence of invasive contralateral breast cancer was reduced by 45% (HR=0.55, P=0.03) in the ARIMIDEX® group, compared to Tamoxifen group. Adverse events were less common with ARIMIDEX® compared to Tamoxifen. The authors concluded that for postmenopausal women with DCIS treated with lumpectomy and radiation, the 10 year Breast Cancer–Free Interval rates are significantly higher with 5 years of ARIMIDEX® than Tamoxifen and ARIMIDEX® may also be a consideration for those women, who are concerned about the risk of thromboembolic events and uterine cancer with Tamoxifen treatment. Primary results, NRG Oncology/NSABP B-35: A clinical trial of anastrozole (A) versus tamoxifen (tam) in postmenopausal patients with DCIS undergoing lumpectomy plus radiotherapy. Margolese RG, Cecchini RS, Julian TB, et al. J Clin Oncol 33, 2015 (suppl; abstr LBA500)