BACKGROUND Suppression of ovarian estrogen production reduces the recurrence of hormonereceptor- positive early breast cancer in premenopausal women, but its value when added to tamoxifen is uncertain.
METHODS We randomly assigned 3066 premenopausal women, stratified according to prior receipt or nonreceipt of chemotherapy, to receive 5 years of tamoxifen, tamoxifen plus ovarian suppression, or exemestane plus ovarian suppression. The primary analysis tested the hypothesis that tamoxifen plus ovarian suppression would improve disease-free survival, as compared with tamoxifen alone. In the primary analysis, 46.7% of the patients had not received chemotherapy previously, and 53.3% had received chemotherapy and remained premenopausal.
RESULTS After a median follow-up of 67 months, the estimated disease-free survival rate at 5 years was 86.6% in the tamoxifen-ovarian suppression group and 84.7% in the tamoxifen group (hazard ratio for disease recurrence, second invasive cancer, or death, 0.83; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.66 to 1.04; P = 0.10). Multivariable allowance for prognostic factors suggested a greater treatment effect with tamoxifen plus ovarian suppression than with tamoxifen alone (hazard ratio, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.62 to 0.98). Most recurrences occurred in patients who had received prior chemotherapy, among whom the rate of freedom from breast cancer at 5 years was 82.5% in the tamoxifen-ovarian suppression group and 78.0% in the tamoxifen group (hazard ratio for recurrence, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.60 to 1.02). At 5 years, the rate of freedom from breast cancer was 85.7% in the exemestane-ovarian suppression group (hazard ratio for recurrence vs. tamoxifen, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.49 to 0.87).
CONCLUSIONS Adding ovarian suppression to tamoxifen did not provide a significant benefit in the overall study population. However, for women who were at sufficient risk for recurrence to warrant adjuvant chemotherapy and who remained premenopausal, the addition of ovarian suppression improved disease outcomes. Further improvement was seen with the use of exemestane plus ovarian suppression.
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