Aromatase inhibitors improve breast cancer prospects says study

In collaboration with the Press Association

Breast cancer patients who switch from the current standard treatment to new aromatase-inhibitor drugs have a higher chance of long-term survival, say researchers.

Moving patients off tamoxifen improved survival times, cut side effects and gave them a higher chance of remaining cancer-free in the long-term, said the German research team.

The study compared five-year outcomes among women given tamoxifen to those among women who were moved onto anastrazole, an aromatase-inhibitor drug, after two or three years.

Tamoxifen works by blocking oestrogen, which is linked to cancer growth among older women, from having an effect on breast tissue. Aromatase inhibitors block the production of the hormone altogether.

"Earlier trials had revealed a reduction in the chances of the disease returning," said Professor John Toy, medical director of Cancer Research UK.

"This analysis of earlier research shows that switching to anastrazole after two or three years of tamoxifen extends survival rates for post-menopausal women being treated for early stage breast cancer.

"Post-menopausal women and their doctors in the UK are already encouraged to consider a switch to anastrazole as part of treatment for early stage breast cancer."

The study was conducted by the University of Kiel and is published in the journal Lancet Oncology.