Aromatase inhibitors: a niche in second-line breast cancer therapy
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The main treatment goal for postmenopausal women with advanced breast cancer who fail tamoxifen therapy is palliation, using further endocrine therapy to block tumour growth and reduce symptoms. Until recently, standard second-line therapy has been with a progestin (megestrol or medroxyprogesterone) or a non-specific aromatase inhibitor (aminoglutethimide). Two papers presented at the European Cancer Conference (ECCO) ’97 [ Hamburg, Germany; September 1997 ], and data discussed in symposia, showed that 2 of the newer aromatase inhibitors, letrozole [‘Femara’, Novartis] and anastrozole [‘Arimidex’, Zeneca], were superior in various comparisons to megestrol and that letrozole was superior to aminoglutethimide.