Switching strategy improves overall survival in breast cancer

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Switching to an aromatase inhibitor such as exemestane [Aromasin] or anastrozole [Arimidex] is more effective than remaining on tamoxifen in postmenopausal women with early breast cancer, according to data presented at the 42nd Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) [Atlanta, Georgia, US; June 2006]. Experts in the field had been edging towards recommending the up-front use of aromatase inhibitors for adjuvant hormonal therapy as a superior alternative to the previous gold standard of tamoxifen. But for the first time in an adjuvant treatment setting, two studies presented at the meeting showed that switching to an aromatase inhibitor after 2−3 years of tamoxifen therapy extended overall survival, compared with the standard 5 years of tamoxifen treatment. Overall survival data from the Intergroup Exemestane Study (IES) and the Arimidex-Nolvadex (ARNO) 95 study re-opened the 'up-front' versus 'switching' debate.

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