Aromatase inhibitors for breast cancer: Different structures, same effects?

Riccardo Ponzone, Paola Mininanni, Elisa Cassina, Francesca Pastorino, Piero Sismondi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aromatase inhibitors (Als) have become the first-choice endocrine drugs for postmenopausal breast cancer patients since they are associated with superior activity and better general tolerability when compared with tamoxifen both in the adjuvant and metastatic settings. As a consequence, the question is no more if a postmenopausal patient should have Als as part of her adjuvant treatment, but when should it be started or which one should be preferentially used. Newer compounds, generally defined as third-generation Als, are biochemically more selective and potent when compared with older ones, and they also show superior clinical activity. As yet, no large randomised study has been published comparing the three third-generation Als on the market. Nevertheless, both laboratory and clinical data suggest that the steroidal (exemestane) and non-steroidal (anastrozole, letrozole) Als may have slightly different toxicity profiles, probably due to the low androgenic action of the formers. While waiting for randomised data on clinical efficacy of third-generation Als, such differences may help select the best drug in elderly patients with a low cumulative risk of relapse and a significant amount of co-morbidities, such as cardiovascular disease or osteoporosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-36
Number of pages10
JournalEndocrine-Related Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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