Aromasin (exemestane) provides alternative option for postmenopausal women in breast cancer prevention.
The highest risk factor for breast cancer is age, especially after 60 and after menopause, which is why researchers have been searching for chemoprevention that can help lower the risk of one of the most common cancers in women. While tamoxifen, and more recently Evista (raloxifene), have shown great improvement in reducing the risk of invasive breast cancer (by about 50 percent), only a small percentage of women at high risk take tamoxifen to reduce breast cancer risk, primarily due to rare but serious side effects, including stroke and blood clots.
Lead investigator of the trial, Paul Goss, MD, PhD, of Massachusetts General Hospital, hopes to change that with the news that Aromasin (exemestane), an aromatase inhibitor used to prevent breast cancer recurrence, lowers the relative risk of primary invasive breast cancer by 65 percent—a greater effect than tamoxifen and Evista, and without the severe side effects. Even when non-invasive cancers (ductal carcinoma in situ) were included, the rate was a 53 percent relative risk reduction. Many symptoms were the same in the Aromasin arm versus the placebo arm, including hot flashes and fatigue.