Objective: It was aimed to review the literature and make a meta-analysis of the trials on both upfront, switching, and sequencing anastrozole in the adjuvant treatment of early breast cancer.
Methods: The PubMed, ClinicalTrials.gov and Cochrane databases were systematically reviewed for randomized-controlled trials comparing anastrozole with tamoxifen in the adjuvant treatment of early breast cancer.
Results: The combined hazard rate of 4 trials for event-free survival (EFS) was 0.77 (95%CI: 0.70-0.85) (P < 0.0001) for patients treated with anastrozole compared with tamoxifen. In the second analysis in which only ITA, ABCSG 8, and ARNO 95 trials were included and ATAC (upfront trial) was excluded, combined hazard rate for EFS was 0.64 (95%CI: 0.52-0.79) (P < 0.0001). In the third analysis including hazard rate for recurrence-free survival (excluding non-disease related deaths) of estrogen receptor-positive patients for ATAC trial and hazard rate for EFS of all patients for the rest of the trials, combined hazard rate was 0.73 (95%CI: 0.65-0.81) (P < 0.0001).
Conclusion: Anastrozole appears to have superior efficacy than tamoxifen in the adjuvant hormonal treatment of early breast cancer. Until further clinical evidence comes up, aromatase inhibitors should be the initial hormonal therapy in postmenopausal early breast cancer patients and switching should only be considered for patients who are currently receiving tamoxifen.