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J Clin Oncol. 2006 Mar 20;24(9):1332-41. Epub 2006 Feb 27.

Tamoxifen after adjuvant chemotherapy for premenopausal women with lymph node-positive breast cancer: International Breast Cancer Study Group Trial 13-93.

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  • 1Division of Medical Oncology, European Institute of Oncology, Via Ripamonti 435, 20141, Milan, Italy.



The value of adjuvant tamoxifen after chemotherapy for premenopausal women with breast cancer has not been adequately assessed.


Between 1993 and 1999, International Breast Cancer Study Group Trial 13-93 enrolled 1,246 assessable premenopausal women with axillary node-positive, operable breast cancer. All patients received chemotherapy (cyclophosphamide plus either doxorubicin or epirubicin for four courses followed by immediate or delayed classical cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, and fluorouracil for three courses), which was followed by either tamoxifen (20 mg daily) for 5 years or no further treatment. The primary end point was disease-free survival (DFS). Tumors were classified as estrogen receptor (ER) -positive (n = 735, 59%) if immunohistochemical (IHC) or ligand-binding assays (LBA) were clearly positive. The ER-negative group included all other tumors (n = 511, 41%). A subset of the ER-negative group was defined as ER absent (n = 108, 9%) if IHC staining was none or if the LBA result was 0 fmol/mg cytosol protein. The median follow-up time was 7 years.


Tamoxifen improved DFS in the ER-positive cohort (hazard ratio [HR] for tamoxifen v no tamoxifen = 0.59; 95% CI, 0.46 to 0.75; P < .0001) but not in the ER-negative cohort (HR = 1.02; 95% CI, 0.77 to 1.35; P = .89). Tamoxifen had a detrimental effect on patients with ER-absent tumors compared with no tamoxifen in an unplanned exploratory analysis (HR = 2.10; 95% CI, 1.03 to 4.29; P = .04). Patients with ER-positive tumors who achieved chemotherapy-induced amenorrhea had a significantly improved outcome (HR for amenorrhea v no amenorrhea = 0.61; 95% CI, 0.44 to 0.86; P = .004), whether or not they received tamoxifen.


Tamoxifen after adjuvant chemotherapy significantly improved treatment outcome in premenopausal patients with endocrine-responsive disease, but its use as adjuvant therapy for patients with ER-negative tumors is not recommended.

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