Purpose: The Intergroup Exemestane Study, an investigator-led study of 4,724 postmenopausal patients with early breast cancer (clinical trial information: ISRCTN11883920), has previously demonstrated that a switch from adjuvant endocrine therapy after 2 to 3 years of tamoxifen to exemestane was associated with clinically relevant improvements in efficacy. Here, we report the final efficacy analyses of this cohort. Patients and Methods: Patients who remained disease free after 2 to 3 years of adjuvant tamoxifen were randomly assigned to continue tamoxifen or switch to exemestane to complete a total of 5 years of adjuvant endocrine therapy. Given the large number of non-breast cancer-related deaths now reported, breast cancer-free survival (BCFS), with censorship of intercurrent deaths, was the primary survival end point of interest. Analyses focus on patients with estrogen receptor-positive or unknown tumors (n = 4,599). Results: At the time of the data snapshot, median follow-up was 120 months. In the population that was estrogen receptor positive or had unknown estrogen receptor status, 1,111 BCFS events were observed with 508 (22.1%) of 2,294 patients in the exemestane group and 603 (26.2%) of 2,305 patients in the tamoxifen group. The data corresponded to an absolute difference (between exemestane and tamoxifen) at 10 years of 4.0% (95% CI, 1.2% to 6.7%), and the hazard ratio (HR) of 0.81 (95% CI, 0.72 to 0.92) favored exemestane. This difference remained in multivariable analysis that was adjusted for nodal status, prior use of hormone replacement therapy, and prior chemotherapy (HR, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.71 to 0.90; P < .001). A modest improvement in overall survival was seen with exemestane; the absolute difference (between exemestane and tamoxifen) at 10 years in the population that was estrogen receptor positive or had unknown estrogen receptor status was 2.1% (95% CI, 20.5% to 4.6%), and the HR was 0.89 (95% CI, 0.78 to 1.01; P = .08). For the intention-to-treat population, the absolute difference was 1.6% (95% CI, 20.9% to 4.1%); the HR was 0.91 (95% CI, 0.80 to 1.03, P = .15). No statistically significant difference was observed in the proportion of patients who reported a fracture event in the post-treatment period. Conclusion: The Intergroup Exemestane Study and contemporaneous studies have established that a strategy of switching to an aromatase inhibitor after 2 to 3 years of tamoxifen can lead to sustained benefits in terms of reduction of disease recurrence and breast cancer mortality.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research