Formestane as treatment of advanced breast cancer in elderly women

N. Zilembo, R. Buzzoni, L. Celio, C. Noberasco, L. Ferrari, A. Laffranchi, G. Vicario, S. Dolci, E. Bajetta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims and background: The number of elderly people is increasing, and the proportion of breast cancer in female cancer patients older than 65 years is 26%. In elderly patients, hormone therapy is widely accepted as the treatment of choice, because of its efficacy and good tolerability compared to chemotherapy. The aim of this study was to evaluate the endocrinologic and clinical activity of formestane (4-hydroxyandrostenedione), a selective aromatase inhibitor, in elderly patients with advanced breast cancer. Methods: Thirty-five patients older than 65 years, selected from a larger group, were given formestane (250 mg or 500 mg i.m. fortnightly). Patients were evaluable for tumor response after 4 doses of formestane. Blood samples were collected to evaluate E2, FSH, LH, SHBG and DHEAS serum levels at baseline and after 2, 4, 8, 12 and 24 weeks. Results: Thirty patients had PS ≤ 1 (ECOG) and only 5 patients had PS = 2. Twenty-six patients were ER positive. Previous hormonal treatment for metastatic disease had been given to 17 patients; only 1 case had received chemotherapy. The overall response rate was 51% (95% C.I. 35-67%) and the median response duration was 9.5 months. Three complete responses were observed on viscera. The best responses were obtained on soft tissues (59%); on bone and viscera the response was respectively 45% and 47%. Local and systemic tolerability was highly satisfactory. Formestane induced prolonged suppression of E2 levels in all of the patients, and a significant reduction in SHBG levels was also observed from month 2 onward. A statistically significant (P = 0.0001) rise in serum FSH was also observed during the therapy. Conclusions: The study showed that formestane induced a long-lasting suppression of E2 levels and a satisfactory overall response. In our opinion, the drug is an effective and well-tolerated approach in the management of advanced breast cancer in elderly patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-437
Number of pages5
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1994


  • aromatase inhibitor
  • breast cancer
  • elderly
  • formestane

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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