Background: The optimum endocrine treatment for postmenopausal women with advanced hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer that has progressed on non-steroidal aromatase inhibitors (NSAIs) is unclear. The aim of the SoFEA trial was to assess a maximum double endocrine targeting approach with the steroidal anti-oestrogen fulvestrant in combination with continued oestrogen deprivation.
Methods: In a composite, multicentre, phase 3 randomised controlled trial done in the UK and South Korea, postmenopausal women with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer (oestrogen receptor [ER] positive, progesterone receptor [PR] positive, or both) were eligible if they had relapsed or progressed with locally advanced or metastatic disease on an NSAI (given as adjuvant for at least 12 months or as first-line treatment for at least 6 months). Additionally, patients had to have adequate organ function and a WHO performance status of 0-2. Participants were randomly assigned (1:1:1) to receive fulvestrant (500 mg intramuscular injection on day 1, followed by 250 mg doses on days 15 and 29, and then every 28 days) plus daily oral anastrozole (1 mg); fulvestrant plus anastrozole-matched placebo; or daily oral exemestane (25 mg). Randomisation was done with computer-generated permuted blocks, and stratification was by centre and previous use of an NSAI as adjuvant treatment or for locally advanced or metastatic disease. Participants and investigators were aware of assignment to fulvestrant or exemestane, but not of assignment to anastrozole or placebo. The primary endpoint was progression-free survival (PFS). Analyses were by intention to treat. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, numbers NCT00253422 (UK) and NCT00944918 (South Korea).
Findings: Between March 26, 2004, and Aug 6, 2010, 723 patients underwent randomisation: 243 were assigned to receive fulvestrant plus anastrozole, 231 to fulvestrant plus placebo, and 249 to exemestane. Median PFS was 4·4 months (95% CI 3·4-5·4) in patients assigned to fulvestrant plus anastrozole, 4·8 months (3·6-5·5) in those assigned to fulvestrant plus placebo, and 3·4 months (3·0-4·6) in those assigned to exemestane. No difference was recorded between the patients assigned to fulvestrant plus anastrozole and fulvestrant plus placebo (hazard ratio 1·00, 95% CI 0·83-1·21; log-rank p=0·98), or between those assigned to fulvestrant plus placebo and exemestane (0·95, 0·79-1·14; log-rank p=0·56). 87 serious adverse events were reported: 36 in patients assigned to fulvestrant plus anastrozole, 22 in those assigned to fulvestrant plus placebo, and 29 in those assigned to exemestane. Grade 3-4 adverse events were rare; the most frequent were arthralgia (three in the group assigned to fulvestrant plus anastrozole; seven in that assigned to fulvestrant plus placebo; eight in that assigned to exemestane), lethargy (three; 11; 11), and nausea or vomiting (five; two; eight).
Interpretation: After loss of response to NSAIs in postmenopausal women with hormone-receptor-positive advanced breast cancer, maximum double endocrine treatment with 250 mg fulvestrant combined with oestrogen deprivation is no better than either fulvestrant alone or exemestane.
Copyright © 2013 Johnston et al. Open Access article distributed under the terms of CC BY-NC-SA. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.