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J Clin Oncol. 2002 Feb 1;20(3):751-7.

Influence of letrozole and anastrozole on total body aromatization and plasma estrogen levels in postmenopausal breast cancer patients evaluated in a randomized, cross-over study.

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  • 1Department of Oncology, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

To compare the effects of the two novel, potent, nonsteroidal aromatase inhibitors anastrozole and letrozole on total-body aromatization and plasma estrogen levels.

PATIENTS AND METHODS:

Twelve postmenopausal women with estrogen receptor-positive, metastatic breast cancer were treated with anastrozole 1 mg orally (PO) and letrozole 2.5 mg PO once daily, each given for a time interval of 6 weeks in a randomized sequence. Total-body aromatization was determined before treatment and at the end of each treatment period using a dual-label isotopic technique involving isolation of the metabolites with high-performance liquid chromatography. Plasma levels of estrone (E(1)), estradiol (E(2)), and estrone sulfate (E(1)S) were determined in samples obtained before each injection using highly sensitive radioimmunoassays.

RESULTS:

Pretreatment aromatase levels ranged from 1.68% to 4.27%. On-treatment levels of aromatase were detectable in 11 of 12 patients during treatment with anastrozole (mean percentage inhibition in the whole group, 97.3%) but in none of the 12 patients during treatment with letrozole (> 99.1% suppression in all patients; Wilcoxon, P =.0022, comparing the two drug regimens). Treatment with anastrozole suppressed plasma levels of E(1), E(2), and E(1)S by a mean of 81.0%, 84.9%, and 93.5%, respectively, whereas treatment with letrozole caused a corresponding decrease of 84.3%, 87.8% and 98.0%, respectively. The suppression of E(1) and E(1)S was found to be significantly better during treatment with letrozole compared with anastrozole (P =.019 and.0037, respectively).

CONCLUSION:

This study revealed letrozole (2.5 mg once daily) to be a more potent suppressor of total-body aromatization and plasma estrogen levels compared with anastrozole (1 mg once daily) in postmenopausal women with metastatic breast cancer.

Comment in

PMID:
11821457
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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