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Letrozole More Effective Than Tamoxifen In Study

BIG 1-98 study was conducted in postmenopausal women with endocrine-responsive breast cancer

THURSDAY, Dec. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Letrozole is better than tamoxifen for reducing recurrent cancer in postmenopausal women with early stage, hormone receptor positive breast cancer, according to a study in the Dec. 29 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

In the Breast International Group (BIG) 1-98 study, 8,010 post-menopausal women with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer were treated with five years of adjuvant endocrine therapy with either tamoxifen or the aromatase inhibitor, letrozole.

The letrozole group experienced 3.4% fewer events in an average follow-up of 25.8 months than those in the tamoxifen group (351 vs. 428). The letrozole group also had a longer disease-free survival rate (84.0 vs. 81.4 years). However, the difference was not statistically significant.

"One of the most exciting aspects of the findings of these evaluations of aromatase inhibitors is that an animal model predicted the results," writes Sandra M. Swain, M.D., in an accompanying editorial. "All the evidence points to aromatase inhibitors as critically important for improving the outcome among postmenopausal women with breast cancer who have positive or negative lymph nodes and who are at a substantial risk for recurrent disease."

The study was supported by Novartis.

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