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J Natl Cancer Inst Monogr. 2011;2011(43):120-3. doi: 10.1093/jncimonographs/lgr034.

Endocrine therapy, new biologicals, and new study designs for presurgical studies in breast cancer.

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Academic Department of Biochemistry, Royal Marsden Hospital, London SW3 6JJ, UK.


The preoperative setting is increasingly popular for the clinical investigation of hormonal agents and new biological drugs. The effectiveness of endocrine agents is well established for estrogen receptor-positive disease, and the emphasis in preoperative studies is on their combination with agents targeted at resistance mechanisms over 3 or more months. New agents are also being assessed for early evidence of clinical efficacy in shorter-term window-of-opportunity studies. The establishment of Ki67 as an intermediate marker of treatment benefit and of long-term outcome, with endocrine drugs, provides the opportunity for new trial designs with Ki67 as the primary endpoint. The PeriOperative Endocrine Therapy for Individualizing Care (POETIC) trial is randomizing (2:1) 4000 estrogen receptor-positive patients to 2 weeks presurgical treatment with a nonsteroidal aromatase inhibitor or no presurgical treatment. It provides a unique opportunity for detailed study of the determinants of response and resistance to estrogen deprivation as well as testing the role of presurgical therapy for improved biomarker-based estimates of prognosis.

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