Exemestane Versus Anastrozole in Postmenopausal Women With Early Breast Cancer: NCIC CTG MA.27-A Randomized Controlled Phase III Trial
PURPOSEIn patients with hormone-dependent postmenopausal breast cancer, standard adjuvant therapy involves 5 years of the nonsteroidal aromatase inhibitors anastrozole and letrozole. The steroidal inhibitor exemestane is partially non-cross-resistant with nonsteroidal aromatase inhibitors and is a mild androgen and could prove superior to anastrozole regarding efficacy and toxicity, specifically with less bone loss. PATIENTS AND METHODS
We designed an open-label, randomized, phase III trial of 5 years of exemestane versus anastrozole with a two-sided test of superiority to detect a 2.4% improvement with exemestane in 5-year event-free survival (EFS). Secondary objectives included assessment of overall survival, distant disease-free survival, incidence of contralateral new primary breast cancer, and safety.ResultsIn the study, 7,576 women (median age, 64.1 years) were enrolled. At median follow-up of 4.1 years, 4-year EFS was 91% for exemestane and 91.2% for anastrozole (stratified hazard ratio, 1.02; 95% CI, 0.87 to 1.18; P = .85). Overall, distant disease-free survival and disease-specific survival were also similar. In all, 31.6% of patients discontinued treatment as a result of adverse effects, concomitant disease, or study refusal. Osteoporosis/osteopenia, hypertriglyceridemia, vaginal bleeding, and hypercholesterolemia were less frequent on exemestane, whereas mild liver function abnormalities and rare episodes of atrial fibrillation were less frequent on anastrozole. Vasomotor and musculoskeletal symptoms were similar between arms. CONCLUSION
This first comparison of steroidal and nonsteroidal classes of aromatase inhibitors showed neither to be superior in terms of breast cancer outcomes as 5-year initial adjuvant therapy for postmenopausal breast cancer by two-way test. Less toxicity on bone is compatible with one hypothesis behind MA.27 but requires confirmation. Exemestane should be considered another option as up-front adjuvant therapy for postmenopausal hormone receptor-positive breast cancer.
Available from: Jacques Balthazart
- "In addition to the reduction of aromatase activity in cancerous tissue such as the breast, bones and brain will also be affected resulting in undesirable side effects (osteoporosis, mood shifts, and hot flushes). These additional effects often lead to failure to take the correct dose or even discontinuation of the treatment by a large percentage of patients (up to 25% in some studies).39,40,41 Although posttranslational modifications seem to be a general mechanism controlling aromatase activity, the specific kinase(s) involved in this modification could be tissue-specific and therefore offer a target of choice to affect aromatase activity in a more specific manner. "
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ABSTRACT: Numerous steroid hormones, including 17β-estradiol (E2), activate rapid and transient cellular, physiological, and behavioral changes in addition to their well-described genomic effects. Aromatase is the key-limiting enzyme in the production of estrogens, and the rapid modulation of this enzymatic activity could produce rapid changes in local E2 concentrations. The mechanisms that might mediate such rapid enzymatic changes are not fully understood but are currently under intense scrutiny. Recent studies in our laboratory indicate that brain aromatase activity is rapidly inhibited by an increase in intracellular calcium concentration resulting from potassium-induced depolarization or from the activation of glutamatergic receptors. Phosphorylating conditions also reduce aromatase activity within minutes, and this inhibition is blocked by the addition of multiple protein kinase inhibitors. This rapid modulation of aromatase activity by phosphorylating conditions is a general mechanism observed in different cell types and tissues derived from a variety of species, including human aromatase expressed in various cell lines. Phosphorylation processes affect aromatase itself and do not involve changes in aromatase protein concentration. The control of aromatase activity by multiple kinases suggests that several amino acids must be concomitantly phosphorylated to modify enzymatic activity but site-directed mutagenesis of several amino acids alone or in combination has not to date revealed the identity of the targeted residue(s). Altogether, the phosphorylation processes affecting aromatase activity provide a new general mechanism by which the concentration of estrogens can be rapidly altered in the brain.
Available from: PubMed Central
- "This trial was conducted under the auspices of the North America Breast Cancer Groups and coordinated by the NCIC Clinical Trials Group in Canada. The results of this trial have recently been published14. Briefly, postmenopausal women who had adequately excised, histologically or cytologically confirmed primary breast cancer that was hormone receptor positive were eligible for this trial. "
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ABSTRACT: The most important modality of treatment in the two-thirds of patients with an estrogen receptor (ER)-positive early breast cancer is endocrine therapy. In postmenopausal women, options include the selective ER modulators (SERMs), tamoxifen and raloxifene, and the 'third-generation' aromatase inhibitors (AIs), anastrozole, exemestane and letrozole. Under the auspices of the National Institutes of Health Global Alliance for Pharmacogenomics, Japan, the Mayo Clinic Pharmacogenomics Research Network Center and the RIKEN Center for Genomic Medicine have worked collaboratively to perform genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in women treated with both SERMs and AIs. On the basis of the results of the GWAS, scientists at the Mayo Clinic have proceeded with functional genomic laboratory studies. As will be seen in this review, this has led to new knowledge relating to endocrine biology that has provided a clear focus for further research to move toward truly personalized medicine for women with breast cancer.Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication, 2 May 2013; doi:10.1038/jhg.2013.35.
Available from: Kelley M Kidwell
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ABSTRACT: Up to 25 % of patients discontinue adjuvant aromatase inhibitor (AI) therapy due to intolerable symptoms. Predictors of which patients will be unable to tolerate these medications have not been defined. We hypothesized that inherited variants in candidate genes are associated with treatment discontinuation because of AI-associated toxicity. We prospectively evaluated reasons for treatment discontinuation in women with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer initiating adjuvant AI through a multicenter, prospective, randomized clinical trial of exemestane versus letrozole. Using multiple genetic models, we evaluated potential associations between discontinuation of AI therapy because of toxicity and 138 variants in 24 candidate genes, selected a priori, primarily with roles in estrogen metabolism and signaling. To account for multiple comparisons, statistical significance was defined as p < 0.00036. Of the 467 enrolled patients with available germline DNA, 152 (33 %) discontinued AI therapy because of toxicity. Using a recessive statistical model, an intronic variant in ESR1 (rs9322336) was associated with increased risk of musculoskeletal toxicity-related exemestane discontinuation [HR 5.0 (95 % CI 2.1-11.8), p < 0.0002]. An inherited variant potentially affecting estrogen signaling may be associated with exemestane-associated toxicity, which could partially account for intra-patient differences in AI tolerability. Validation of this finding is required.
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