Anastrozole versus tamoxifen as first-line therapy for advanced breast cancer in 668 postmenopausal women: results of the Tamoxifen or Arimidex Randomized Group Efficacy and Tolerability study

J Clin Oncol. 2000 Nov 15;18(22):3748-57. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2000.18.22.3748.


Purpose: To compare the efficacy and tolerability of anastrozole (Arimidex; AstraZeneca, Wilmington, DE, and Macclesfield, United Kingdom) with that of tamoxifen as first-line therapy for advanced breast cancer (ABC) in postmenopausal women.

Patients and methods: This randomized, double-blind, multicenter study evaluated the efficacy of anastrozole 1 mg once daily relative to tamoxifen 20 mg once daily in patients with tumors that were hormone receptor-positive or of unknown receptor status who were eligible for endocrine therapy. The primary end points were time to progression (TTP), objective response (OR), and tolerability.

Results: A total of 668 patients (340 in the anastrozole arm and 328 in the tamoxifen arm) were randomized to treatment and followed-up for a median of 19 months. Median TTP was similar for both treatments (8.2 months in patients who received anastrozole and 8.3 months in patients who received tamoxifen). The tamoxifen:anastrozole hazards ratio was 0.99 (lower one-sided 95% confidence limit, 0.86), demonstrating that anastrozole was at least equivalent to tamoxifen. Anastrozole was also as effective as tamoxifen in terms of OR (32.9% of anastrozole and 32.6% of tamoxifen patients achieved a complete response [CR] or partial response [PR]). Clinical benefit (CR + PR + stabilization of > or = 24 weeks) rates were 56.2% and 55.5% for patients receiving anastrozole and tamoxifen, respectively. Both treatments were well tolerated. However, incidences of thromboembolic events and vaginal bleeding were reported in fewer patients treated with anastrozole than with tamoxifen (4.8% v 7.3% [thromboembolic events] and 1.2% v 2.4% [vaginal bleeding], respectively).

Conclusion: Anastrozole satisfied the predefined criteria for equivalence to tamoxifen. Together with the lower observed incidence of thromboembolic events and vaginal bleeding, these findings indicate that anastrozole should be considered as first-line therapy for postmenopausal women with ABC.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anastrozole
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / therapeutic use*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Estrogen Receptor Modulators / adverse effects
  • Estrogen Receptor Modulators / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Nitriles / adverse effects
  • Nitriles / therapeutic use*
  • Postmenopause
  • Tamoxifen / adverse effects
  • Tamoxifen / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Triazoles / adverse effects
  • Triazoles / therapeutic use*


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal
  • Estrogen Receptor Modulators
  • Nitriles
  • Triazoles
  • Tamoxifen
  • Anastrozole