Breast cancer: current and future endocrine therapies

Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2014 Jan 25;382(1):695-723. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2013.08.001. Epub 2013 Aug 7.


Endocrine therapy forms a central modality in the treatment of estrogen receptor positive breast cancer. The routine use of 5 years of adjuvant tamoxifen has improved survival rates for early breast cancer, and more recently has evolved in the postmenopausal setting to include aromatase inhibitors. The optimal duration of adjuvant endocrine therapy remains an active area of clinical study with recent data supporting 10 years rather than 5 years of adjuvant tamoxifen. However, endocrine therapy is limited by the development of resistance, this can occur by a number of possible mechanisms and numerous studies have been performed which combine endocrine therapy with agents that modulate these mechanisms with the aim of preventing or delaying the emergence of resistance. Recent trial data regarding the combination of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitor, everolimus with endocrine therapy have resulted in a redefinition of the clinical treatment pathway in the metastatic setting. This review details the current endocrine therapy utilized in both early and advanced disease, as well as exploring potential new targets which modulate pathways of resistance, as well as agents which aim to modulate adrenal derived steroidogenic hormones.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Endocrine therapy; Targeted therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Estrogens / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism


  • Estrogens
  • Receptors, Estrogen