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Breast Cancer Res Treat. 1990 Aug;16 Suppl:S9-17.

Preclinical studies with toremifene as an antitumor agent.

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Department of Human Oncology, University of Wisconsin Clinical Cancer Center, Madison 53792.


Toremifene is a nonsteroidal antiestrogen currently being evaluated for the treatment of breast cancer. Toremifene (10(-10)-10(-6) M) inhibited the growth of MCF-7 breast cancer cells in vitro but was ineffective against hormone-independent MDA-MB-231 cells. This activity was reproduced in vivo using the athymic mouse model. Maximal MCF-7 tumor growth was produced in athymic mice by circulating estradiol levels of approximately 200 pg/ml (from a 0.5 cm silastic capsule implanted sc). Toremifene (77 +/- 44 micrograms/day from a 2 cm silastic capsule) inhibited estradiol (0.5 cm capsule)-stimulated growth by more than 70%. No tumor growth was observed in mice treated with toremifene alone, although toremifene acted as a weak partial agonist and potent antagonist on the mouse uterus. The growth of MDA-MB-231 tumors was not influenced by either estradiol or toremifene. Toremifene (200 micrograms/day) was effective in preventing the development of 7,12-dimethylbenzanthracene-induced rat mammary tumors when given po from day 28 after carcinogen administration. The antitumor activity was reversed if the toremifene was stopped. These findings indicate toremifene is a tumoristatic agent rather than a tumoricidal agent. Clinical trials with toremifene should employ an indefinite treatment strategy to control tumor recurrence in adjuvant studies.

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